Thursday, November 30, 2006
By VANESSA HO, P-I REPORTER
As the sky darkened and the rain blew sideways, Tiberious Shapiro tucked into the Central Library, his favorite place to pass the hours before the homeless shelters opened. He picked up a paperback and escaped into a Harlequin romance.
Around him were dozens of hard-edged, solitary men. There was bushy-bearded Kevin, who slept in a park; the mohawked regular who panhandled for beer money; a young man who slapped his head with a magazine; an old man who strode in with a garbage bag rustling around his shirt.
For them, Seattle's renowned downtown library is more than architectural dazzle and literary splendor. It is a harbor from autumn and winter and an oasis from an increasingly wealthy and unwelcoming downtown.
"I'll sit here and let the day's stress come down," said Shapiro, who is 38, thin, toothless and scraped up.
Zoom Andy Rogers / P-I
Tiberious Shapiro takes a look at Reader's Digest in the "Living Room" area of the Seattle Central Library recently. Shapiro says the downtown library is his favorite place to pass the time before homeless shelters open.
Every year, as the weather turns nastier, more people seek refuge inside the celebrated, $165 million, glass-and-metal tourist attraction.
In the old library, patrons who were homeless, addicted and mentally ill had generated loud complaints. There were such common-sense rules as no sleeping, drinking alcohol or bathing in the sinks, but they were inconsistently enforced. Staffers and patrons complained of assaults and drug deals, and of smelly men hogging up chairs to doze.
When the new Central Library opened two years ago, many people wondered if it would simply become a more expensive homeless hangout.
But today, the library is doing more to accommodate both rich and poor. There are more programs for a wider audience, from noontime lectures to children's events to writing workshops for homeless people.
"I feel really proud of our staff and our commitment to making sure the building is user-friendly, safe and diverse," city librarian Deborah Jacobs said.
The building itself is more spacious, with more individual breathing space and fewer creepy isolated areas. And tourists still come daily, to gawk at the soaring ceilings.
"I think this is one of the places in Seattle where people can come and everybody is the same," said security officer Christopher Hogan, as he recently made his rounds through the library's 10 public floors.
The calmer atmosphere is mostly because of Hogan and his team of 10 officers, who roam the book spirals, stairwells and bathrooms with clockwork efficiency.
Hogan and Vanderhoef
Zoom Andy Rogers / P-I
Security officer Christopher Hogan chats with Kevin Vanderhoef, who had nodded off at the library after spending a night on the street. Vanderhoef was reminded of the rules, which includes no sleeping. Vanderhoef says he visits the library frequently, sometimes every day
On a recent day, Hogan gently rousted slumbering men to "get some fresh air." He asked a man about to snack on a cookie to put it away. He told a patron that his bursting, gargantuan bag did not appear regulation-size.
Anyone who reeks gets a polite request to leave and a card telling him or her where to get a free shower.
"That's probably the one that's the most difficult to enforce, because it's really personal," Hogan said.
Since the library opened, officers have barred more than 800 rule breakers, mostly for sleeping or being disruptive. The exclusions last for a few days to one year.
Shapiro, who often plays pinochle online, said he had a spell of nodding off at the library, which got him banned. He had torn his shoulder at a job heaving 50-pound sacks of rice, was on painkillers and couldn't stay awake. But the officers, he said, had been nice about it.
"They go out of their way to give you every possible chance they can."
Hogan said he tries to treat everyone respectfully, no matter what they wear or how badly they smell.
"It goes back to how my mother raised me," he said.
During his rounds, he shook hands with Luther, who sported thick, broken eyeglasses. He awakened Kevin and learned he was tired from sleeping poorly on a park bench the night before.
He checked on a regular in matted dreadlocks, who often percolated with wild thoughts and spent hours filling sheets of paper with tiny numbers.
"Is the satellite working?" Hogan asked without a smirk. Usually friendly, the man didn't answer. Hogan grew concerned.
He considered it his job to know if someone was off his meds, off the wagon or off from a bad night. Then the man muttered something about a business logo in the newspaper being his own logo. Hogan knew he was all right.
"I was looking for him to say something outrageous, and he did," he said. Then Hogan turned to him and spoke like a friend.
"I'll catch up with you in a little bit."
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Besides the origin of this link — the International Herald Tribune — what’s notable is an interesting tidbit about the recent brouhaha at the Marshall Public Library regarding two “pornographic” graphic novels.
Blankets and Fun Home touched off what library director Amy Crump called the first challenge of library materials in the facility’s 16-year history.
The plot thickens…
I was reading about this in the print edition of American Free Press but can't find their story online...
Some fundies want these books removed from the Marshll Public Library...so they protested.
The anti protestors & Library Director, Amy Crump, are citing the The Freedom to Read Statement, which is part of libraries official policy.
The AFP article says that "'Fun Home' depicts a lesbian couple conversing nude in bed while engaging in sex acts"...
The other book, 'Blankets' "shows heterosexual sex and "pillow talk" scenes between a young couple. The girl is shown naked from the waist up."
"One of the books was in the library's teen section."
In the first lawsuit filed over a library's refusal to disable Internet filters for adults wishing to access constitutionally-protected speech, three library users and a nonprofit organization advocating Second Amendment rights have sued the North Central Regional Library District (NCRL), based in Wenatchee in Eastern Washington. Several other libraries nationally follow policies similar to those alleged in the lawsuit. In the Washington case, the plaintiffs are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington. The American Library Assocation (ALA) is not a part of the lawsuit "at this point," said Judith Krug, director of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom. "I knew that ACLU has been looking for a lawsuit ever since we got the decision" on the Children's Internet Protection Act, which requires filtering as a condition for E-rate discounts. ALA advises libraries that, under the court decision and the government's interpretation of the statute, they should disable the filters upon requests by adults.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Spokane, charges that NCRL configures SmartFilter, Bess edition, to block numerous categories of Internet content, including "Alcohol, Anonymizers, Chat, Criminal Skills, Dating/Social, Drugs, Extreme, Gambling, Game/Cartoon Violence, Gruesome Content, Hacking, Hate Speech, Malicious Sites, Nudity, P2P/File Sharing, Personal Pages, Phishing, Pornography, Profanity, School Cheating Information, Sexual Materials, Spyware, Tobacco, Violence, Visual Search Engine and Weapon." One plaintiff has tried to research youth tobacco usage for academic research, while others have tried to research health topics and firearms. NCRL director Dean Marney told the AP that the library system had changed its filtering software and allows sites to be unblocked. Responding to a question from LJ, he cited a March/April 2005 article from Public Libraries, which stated, "The law gives librarians the option of disabling these filters if an adult patron specifically requests that they be turned off under specific circumstances, but the law does not require that such requests be granted." He added, "The North Central Regional Library is a rural library district with 28 mostly small town branches. We make every attempt to treat the Internet as we would any other area of our collection. The Board of Trustees has adopted an Internet Use Policy that adheres to CIPA, uses common sense, and reflects community expectations." Given that the law, as applied, has never been evaluated in court, that issue will be up to a judge.
Monday, November 20, 2006
It now takes the average, Internet-capable library patron under one minute to search for an audio book copy of a book on Compact Disc (less than 30 seconds if you’re “Search” savvy), locate which library has it in stock and have it shipped to the nearest branch within the Monroe County Library System for the sum of 50 cents or pick it up at the library for free.
“Computers cracked open the Monroe County Library System,” says Patricia Uttaro, director of the Ogden Farmers’ Library. “In the days of the card catalogue, you could only see what was owned by the library in which you were standing.”
Erected in place of the card catalogue is CARLweb 5.2, the searchable, computerized library database, which consolidates the entire Monroe County Library System (MCLS) collection in a single format. The bulky drawers and index cards are not the only aspect of the library to have become antiquated in the march of technological progress.
Microfilm has been eclipsed by the microprocessor, which reads and stores millions of bytes (bits of information translated into binary code) in a computer chip the size of a fingernail. Journal, newspaper and magazine articles from all over the world now can be accessed within seconds through online databases, available in even the smallest local library.
Still, there is more at stake for the quaint local library than a technological upgrade. In the last decade, and the past few years especially, the library has been revolutionized. DVD and audio book collections have skyrocketed across the board. And patronage, on the rise nearly every year for the past decade, shows no sign of slowing.
“Libraries are different from what they used to be,” says Claire Talbot, Children’s Library Assistant at the Chili Public Library. “They used to be real quiet places. Now they’re like community hub.”
At the Chili branch, for example, you can get a cup of coffee, research your genealogy, take a class on knitting, pick up the latest DVD release, home school your child, ogle the fish aquarium, check your email, stage a puppet show, learn how to do your taxes, play chess, catch a jazz concert (in the summer), surf the Internet, and, if you’re so inclined, read a book.
“Public libraries are no longer quiet, dusty places overseen by a stern librarian whose primary job is to shush people,” says Patricia Uttaro.
Children and teens, especially, have become target demographics for an institution that once suffered from its reputation as formidably un-youthful.
“Out of a population of 9,651, 5.6% are teenagers,” says Sandra Shaw, director of the Holley Community Free Library, of the town of Holley. “Studies show that this age group is the least active in libraries, but need libraries the most.”
Holley has since done its part to correct this disparity with the addition of a young adult reading room to the library facilities, and a program of reading groups specific to teenagers.
Other libraries have already addressed this demographic, and it’s not unusual to see puppet theaters in the children’s space, and manga (Japanese comic books) among the young adult novels and non-fiction books. A few libraries go even further in their efforts to appeal to youth culture.
At the Seymour Library in Brockport, newly built at East Avenue in 1996, the children’s room is designed with explicit reference to the child’s perspective. Angles abound on the ceiling which swoops down, leaving a portion of the room difficult to access by the taller adults, who are forced to kneel, squat or sit. The tables and chairs are in miniature, and the windows are at the sight-level of a child two or three feet tall.
Bigger, better, faster, more
As their collections expand exponentially, many libraries have had to move to a larger facility sometime within the last ten years - echoing construction of the Bausch & Lomb Building in downtown Rochester, which helped share the burden of the Rundel Memorial Library across the street. Ogden Farmers’ Library relocated in 1992; Brockport’s Seymour in 1996; Chili Public in 1998; Hamlin Public in 2000 - and Newman-Riga doubled its square footage in 1989 with the addition of a new wing.
With more available materials, more square footage, and more activities than ever before, libraries have thrown open their doors to welcome the public en masse. Though the written word - whether in a book or magazine, on paper or digitized - remains the main attraction of the library, according to Hamlin Public Library Director Adrienne Lattin, the bookworm is not the only patron anymore. Researchers need to make room for the slew of Internet gamers, school project coordinators, basket weavers and homeschoolers.
“Even though we’re not even 10 years old, we’ve already outgrown our space,” says Chili Library Director Jennifer Ries-Taggart. “It’s unbelievable.”
The Chili Public Library saw over 165,000 people pass through its doors in 2005, with a circulation count of nearly 308,000 items. To put that in context, notes Ries-Taggart, the population of Chili peaked just shy of 28,000 at the time of the 2000 census.
Since the Hamlin Public Library relocated to a large space in 2000, their circulation and patronage increased over 400 percent.
In 2005, the Ogden Farmers’ Library saw a circulation of over 235,000 items - indicative of the 62 percent increase in patronage since 2000 - which goes a long way to debunk the myth that people are no longer reading.
“I hear reports all the time that people aren’t reading anymore,” said Sally Snow, director of the Parma Public Library, “but I don’t think anyone has told the publishing industry that. No one seems to have told our customers either, judging by our growing circulation numbers.”
As town libraries expand to accommodate growth in population and increased demand, patrons still cannot get enough. From Parma to Riga to Brockport the cry is the same: more books and movies; bigger, better and faster computers; and longer hours of operation.
“Surveys have shown that patrons are favorable toward the staff and service,” says Sally Snow, “but they want more new titles in all formats and more hours, especially on weekends.”
The library patron(s) of today
Expect to find fewer and fewer individual readers at the library, according to Patricia Uttaro. She has seen the crowd at Ogden Farmers’ Library transformed from sparse and noiseless to buzzing with activity.
“Entire families drop by to work on the computers, browse for books or movies, or attend one of our many programs; groups of students work together on cooperative projects; genealogy researchers compare notes; or scout troops work on badge requirements,” says Uttaro.
Brockport Middle School student Ashley Gurgel frequents the Brockport Seymour Library in search of a quiet place to study, she says, though admits that she may as often be found thumbing the pages of a novel or surfing the Internet. Her family has yet to tie into the world wide web at home, she says, and the library’s impressive collection of young adult fiction books offers infinite access to stories and plots.
“Public libraries bridge the gap for those who don’t own a home PC,” says Chili’s Ries-Taggart, signaling what may be the major draw for the institution today.
Libraries provide computers and Internet for those without access at home; books for those who cannot afford or choose not to purchase them; audio and video for those with no other means to discover a new film or a style of music they have never heard; and, more and more, a non-retail space for people to gather without prejudice to age, race, creed, class or interests.
Chili resident Rose Zolnierowski and grandson, Kyle Dion, trek in twice a week for up to three hours at a time and set up camp in the plush multicolored comfort of the children’s section at the Chili Public Library. Often they team up for a session of interactive learning at the computer station, or band together with other patrons to perform a puppet show.
When she isn’t spending time with her grandson, Rose and her husband visit the library for a cup of coffee and a quiet evening of reading.
The library is the only public institution that actively appeals to the entire community from toddlers to seniors and during all business hours, according to Adrienne Lattin. It knows how to adapt to its population, and, according to the numbers, it is succeeding.
Note: Statistics on Library patronage and circulation provided by Jeff Baker of the Monroe County Library System.
Next Week: Part two - Adapting the resources of community libraries.
The story of Cindee Goetz began more than a year ago with a scared squirrel, a trap and a library roof, and ended last month with the 52-year-old librarian's termination after nearly 21 years on the job.
“My life of 21 years is pretty much different now,” Goetz said Friday from her LaPorte home. “For 18 years I've had absolutely wonderful evaluations, but lately I've had a target on my back. And now it's all changed.
“Everything as I've known it for so long is completely different.”
Goetz said she'd been fired from her job as a librarian at the Coolspring branch of the LaPorte County Public Library in early October.
The termination didn't come as a surprise to Goetz, although the timing of it did. An animal activist and rescuer, Goetz gained notoriety locally last year after she removed what she called “inhumane traps” from the Coolspring branch.
The traps had been put out to catch a squirrel that had found its way into the library and was in danger, officials said then, of damaging the building or coming in contact with library patrons.
Goetz was suspended for a week in December 2005 without pay. Library Director Judy Hamilton said at the time the squirrel incident was the tipping point for the suspension.
She said the incident - in which Goetz was said to have gone around the chain of command to remove the traps - was not the first for Goetz. Hamilton said then that Goetz's animal advocacy was interfering with her job.
Hamilton Friday said she cannot comment on Goetz's claims because they are personnel matters.
“I can't give you any information,” she said. “I can't say whether you have correct information or incorrect information.”
Goetz was surprised by the timing of her termination because she said she'd been adhering to restrictions placed on her by library management. She said in the months before her firing she was restricted from conversing with patrons and could not say or do anything that had anything to do with animals inside or directly outside the library.
“It was tough, because the branch is like a family place. I've known a lot of those patrons for a long time and it's hard to just essentially stop speaking to them,” she said. “I could only be suddenly abrupt, which was difficult. But I did it. I've been very good.”
Since her firing, Goetz - who lives on a single income with “a large pet family to take care of” - has struggled to make ends meet. She's working part-time for a friend at a bookstore at Lighthouse Place Mall, but still struggles.
She said she's been denied unemployment benefits.
"I really appreciate that I've got something. I'm so thankful,” she said. “But it's tough. I can't lose my house. I've got to find something to get me through all this.”
Goetz said she's appealing the denial of benefits.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Researchers in Timbuktu are fighting to preserve tens of thousands of ancient texts which they say prove Africa had a written history at least as old as the European Renaissance.
Private and public libraries in the fabled Saharan town in Mali have already collected 150,000 brittle manuscripts, some of them from the 13th century, and local historians believe many more lie buried under the sand.
The texts were stashed under mud homes and in desert caves by proud Malian families whose successive generations feared they would be stolen by Moroccan invaders, European explorers and then French colonialists.
Written in ornate calligraphy, some were used to teach astrology or mathematics, while others tell tales of social and business life in Timbuktu during its "Golden Age," when it was a seat of learning in the 16th century.
"These manuscripts are about all the fields of human knowledge: law, the sciences, medicine," said Galla Dicko, director of the Ahmed Baba Institute, a library housing 25,000 of the texts.
"Here is a political tract," he said, pointing to a script in a glass cabinet, somewhat dog-eared and chewed by termites. "A letter on good governance, a warning to intellectuals not to be corrupted by the power of politicians."
Bookshelves on the wall behind him contain a volume on maths and a guide to Andalusian music as well as love stories and correspondence between traders plying the trans-Saharan caravan routes.
Timbuktu's leading families have only recently started to give up what they see as ancestral heirlooms. They are being persuaded by local officials that the manuscripts should be part of the community's shared culture.
"It is through these writings that we can really know our place in history," said Abdramane Ben Essayouti, Imam of Timbuktu's oldest mosque, Djingarei-ber, built from mud bricks and wood in 1325.
HEAT, DUST AND TERMITES
Experts believe the 150,000 texts collected so far are just a fraction of what lies hidden under centuries of dust behind the ornate wooden doors of Timbuktu's mud-brick homes.
"This is just 10 percent of what we have. We think we have more than a million buried here," said Ali Ould Sidi, a government official responsible for managing the town's World Heritage Sites.
Some academics say the texts will force the West to accept Africa has an intellectual history as old as its own. Others draw comparisons with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
But as the fame of the manuscripts spreads, conservationists fear those that have survived centuries of termites and extreme heat will be sold to tourists at extortionate prices or illegally trafficked out of the country.
South Africa is spearheading "Operation Timbuktu" to protect the texts, funding a new library for the Ahmed Baba Institute, named after a Timbuktu-born contemporary of William Shakespeare.
The United States and Norway are helping with the preservation of the manuscripts, which South African President Thabo Mbeki has said will "restore the self respect, the pride, honor and dignity of the people of Africa."
The people of Timbuktu, whose universities were attended by 25,000 scholars in the 16th century but whose languid pace of life has been left behind by modernity, have similar hopes.
"The nations formed a single line and Timbuktu was at the head. But one day, God did an about-turn and Timbuktu found itself at the back," a local proverb goes.
"Perhaps one day God will do another about-turn so that Timbuktu can retake its rightful place," it adds.
Monday, November 06, 2006
I have not reported on every program at Internet Librarian, which is at this point so two-weeks-ago, but there are a few good points to add.
1493 librarians, speakers, and exhibitors gathered in
Best of Resource Shelf
Gary Price of Resource Shelf and Ask.com highlighted lots of new websites for information professionals and the general public. His list with links is on the web at www.tinyurl.com/yhwoyl. Missing from the list is FlightAware which lets searchers see exactly where commercial airplanes are in real time.
At a conference like the LITA Forum or Internet Librarian, I sometimes go to a presentation about which I know very very little. At Internet Librarian 2006 I attended Mashup Applications with John Blyberg of Ann Arbor District Library and Chris Deweese of the Lewis and Clark library System in
Blyberg said that a mashup is an Internet software application created by bringing together two pieces of otherwise unrelated software. He said the term comes from the music industry where older recordings are mixed to create new recordings.
He had four points to make:
- Mashups do not require code writing. The code already exits.
- Results are instantaneous. The user creates his or her Internet tools.
- Results can be striking.
- Mashups are central to the evolving web.
In demonstrating his points, the speaker completely lost me. You may not need to write code, but you need to read it and know what bits to take, how to combine it, and where to put it. He moved a little too fast for me in this presentation. I need to start again with this topic.
Chris Deweese showed an application of Google Maps.
What I Gained from Attending Internet Libraian 2006
I learned more about how wikis work. I would like to use one in the library to keep track of ready reference information. A wiki could also serve well as a staff Intranet because it would be easy for everyone to contribute and edit. Policies, procedures, and forms could be managed efficiently for the department.
I heard several discussions about effective web page design, which is relevant to our current web site project.
I collected ideas for increasing the use of our online databases. Web linking and directed marketing were included.
I was given new ideas on marketing library across the Internet. The library can reach more clients through social software applications.
I learned about dozens of useful websites.
I met some of the librarians who write the blogs that I read. I enjoyed this benefit of the conference very much.
I met with Aaron Schmidt several times to discuss the website and other technology at our library. We dined well.
I was exposed to new ideas about the future of libraries and librarianship.posted by ricklibrarian
(Best of ResourceShelf)
Director of Online Information Resources, Ask.com
Search Engine Ordering
PublicRadioFan.com, Great Podcast Directory Too!
INTUTE and Virtual Training Suite
Ask Images from the Search Box
How About A List of Searched for Companies?
MSU Global Gateway
Global Legal Info Network Network
and Global Legal Monitor
FirstGovSearch Images and News
Yahoo Audio Search
Ready Reference: Calendars
Other Web Archives (Some Keyword Searchable)
Consider a Proxy or Anonymizer, You are Being Tracked
Local WebSite Archive
GovTrack.US (Track legislation)
+ Art Museums
Note Technology at The Hermitage. See Also, Riya
and Other CBIR Tools
+ Real-Time Collection
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Environmental Protection Agency Deputy Administrator Marcus Peacock is promising that EPA library material will be available digitally in the near future. His announcement comes amid concerns that library documents will become inaccessible as the agency shuts down many physical library facilities.
On Oct. 21, Peacock posted a message on YubaNet, an online community Web site for California’s Gold Country and Northern Sierra Nevada, stating, “All unique EPA material from all the recently closed physical libraries will be digitized in the next several weeks,” by January 2007.
He added that the EPA expects digitization of all materials to take two to three years, but information will not be restricted to the public during the transition.
Peacock posted the note in response to specific worries raised by an anonymous EPA employee, according to Peacock's YubaNet entry. Other employees had expressed concerns about whether information would continue to be made available as physical libraries are converted into virtual ones, his message states.
The unidentified employee had asked how long it would take to digitize the materials and whether the fiscal 2007 budget allocates funding for the digitization.
In September, House Democratic leaders asked the Government Accountability Office to review the EPA’s plan to close some of its libraries as it converts a network of physical libraries to a digital system. GAO officials granted the lawmakers’ request. The lawmakers were also worried that thousands of documents might become inaccessible during the switch.
Peacock wrote that, to the contrary, the “EPA's materials are becoming more accessible to the public.”
He notes that all the unique EPA documents from Region 5's physical library have already been digitized and placed on the agency’s Web site, “so more people now have better access to that material than ever before...which is the whole idea.”
The Region 5 Library in Chicago serves Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin and 35 tribes.
The EPA has money to cover the costs of digitization, Peacock wrote. The funding is in the Office of Environmental Information's budget. However, the program is not a separate appropriations line item, he wrote, adding that not many such activities are.
The unnamed employee had said that materials are being locked away, where they are not available to anyone, Peacock wrote.
“I have been repeatedly assured that is not the case, and I have asked anyone to inform me, anonymously or otherwise, of any instance where they are unable to obtain a document they need that was previously available,” he wrote. “And I am not aware of a single instance where that is happened, but I am all ears.”
The Bush administration’s plan, which is part of the president’s fiscal 2007 budget recommendations, proposes to save $2 million by cutting more than 30 percent of the EPA libraries’ funds. The plan would shut down three regional EPA libraries and the headquarters library. It would cut the hours of operation at other EPA libraries, according to agency officials. The four facilities closed Oct. 1.
The nationwide EPA Library Network consists of 28 libraries. The EPA’s scientists, regulators and attorneys use the collections and services to gather information they need to conduct environmental assessments, develop regulations and enforce laws.