Saturday, December 30, 2006

Nevada Library Swaps Food for Fines

Dayton's procrastinating readers with overdue library books can still receive amnesty from fines by way of a food donation if they bring their nonperishable items to the library by Friday.

The Dayton Valley branch will forgive one fine per food item brought in, said librarian Theresa Kenneston.

"So if they have five items overdue, they need to bring in five cans of food," she said.

Donations can be canned or dried vegetables, fruits, soups, meats and stews, prepackaged rice and noodles, cereal, and other nonperishables. "Nothing in a jar," Kenneston said.

Those who don't owe fines are also encouraged to make food donations.

The Food for Fines program does not include library items that have been lost or damaged and must be replaced.

Staff and volunteers with the Lyon County Human Services Department will distribute the donated nonperishable food items through the Dayton food bank at the Dayton Community Center, 170 Pike St.

The food bank will be distributing the food from 4:30-6 p.m. Jan 11.

The Carson City Library's Food For Fines program ended Nov. 22.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Worcester Homeless Policy Revised

Homeless patrons of the Worcester MA library were previously only able to borrow two books at a time, but that restriction has been overturned by a suit brought by homeless advocates proving that the limitation was unconstitutional.

Last week, the city settled with the Legal Assistance Corp. of Central Massachusetts and the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, which filed the suit on behalf of three co-plaintiffs who live in shelters and felt they were discriminated against. Under the settlement, the library has scrapped its policy restricting borrowing privileges of residents of shelters, transitional housing programs and adolescent programs.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Priceless Collection Without a Home

More than a year ago, The Chronicle profiled the private collections of various faculty members: a collection of equestrian books, a collection of board games, a collection of Chinese advertisement, to name a few. Since then we’ve met directors of major libraries who have collections of pocket knives, German folk art, and elephants (not real ones, but elephants in earrings, statuettes, and so on). A librarian at Cal Poly Pomona has a garage full of rare and valuable books -- tens of thousands of them. There is something about the profession that draws the careful collector and the pack rat alike.

The New York Times has an article today about one very careful and patient collector who was also a university librarian. The late Mayme Agnew Clayton, who worked at the University of Southern California and the University of California at Los Angeles, spent her life gathering documents of American-American history and culture, using money from her modest salary to pick up items at antiques, flea markets, and garage sales. Ms. Clayton, who died in October at the age of 83, has left behind a collection that many consider priceless.

The question now is what to do with it. Could it go to Howard University? To a new African-American museum in Baltimore? The article says only that Ms. Clayton’s son dreams of housing the collection in a hilltop museum. -- Scott Carlson

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Protest at SMU Targets Bush Library

The likelihood that the George W. Bush presidential library will be located at SMU has not been welcome news for at least one segment of the university community. A letter, dated December 16, from "Faculty, Administrators, & Staff" of the Perkins School of Theology to R. Gerald Turner, president of the Board of Trustees, is now circulating not only on the SMU campus but also among a wider academic community, urging the board to "reconsider and to rescind SMU's pursuit of the presidential library."

Texas Monthly has obtained a copy of this letter, which, as you might expect, focuses heavily on objections to Bush's policies: "We count ourselves among those who would regret to see SMU enshrine attitudes and actions widely deemed as ethically egregious: degradation of habeas corpus, outright denial of global warming, flagrant disregard for international treaties, alienation of long-term U.S. allies, environmental predation, shameful disrespect for gay persons and their rights, a pre-emptive war based on false and misleading premises, and a host of other erosions of respect for the global human community and for this good Earth on which our flourishing depends."

"[T]hese violations are antithetical to the teaching, scholarship, and ethical thinking that best represents Southern Methodist University."

"Another matter that warrants our attention is that whether it aims to or not SMU will, in the long run, financially profit on the backs of hard-working Americans who feel squashed by policies they've now rejected at the polls. Surely it's not the case that SMU will allow itself to benefit financially from a name and legacy that globally is associated with suffering, death, and political 'bad faith.' Taken together, all these issues set decision-making about the Library in a framework of inescapable ethical questions, and remind us of a key imperative adopted by many leading universities around the globe: 'to be critic and conscience of society.'"

In addition to opposing Bush's policies, the letter writers raise their voices against the purported mission of the library itself. Their concerns are based on a New York Daily News story of November 27, which describes the future library as a $500 million center (the costliest presidential library ever), the purpose of which would be "to spread the gospel of a presidency that for now gets poor marks from many scholars and a majority of Americans."
The letter to Turner makes the point that there are "two fundamentally different visions of the Library": a neutral space for unbiased academic research conducted by scholars, or a conservative think tank and policy institute that engages in legacy polishing and grooms young conservatives for public office.

I don't have much sympathy for the main protagonists here. The folks at the Perkins School should render unto Caesar: in this case, the trustees. The decision to accept or reject a presidential library is not a moral one--and even if it were, it is not theirs to make. And if George W. Bush tries to set up a library that will vindicate his presidency, he won't be the first president to try. But he would be the first to succeed. History is not that easy to manipulate.

The model for a presidential library is the one right here in Austin. To Lyndon Johnson's credit, he wanted the library to be a place where, as he said at the dedication in 1971, history could be seen "with the bark off." Unlike other presidential libraries--Nixon's and Kennedy's come to mind--there is no history here of the library administration treating historians it regards as unfavorable to the president differently from historians who are favorable. Ironically, the LBJ library has probably done more to advance the reputation of its subject more than any other presidential library--not by design, but simply by releasing his telephone tapes into the public sphere. That's the way history is supposed to work.

posted by Paul Burka

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

"When Librarians Attack!" DVD Enjoys Brisk Sales

HOLLYWOOD, California

With DVD sales flat as more consumers download pirated versions of films from the internet, the entertainment industry has one surprise success on its hands--a collection of security camera videos of librarians attacking patrons in high school reading rooms.

"Being a librarian is a very frustrating, low-paying job," says producer Toby Hudspeth, whose film bypassed theatrical release with a "direct-to-video" marketing strategy. "It's immensely entertaining to watch these strait-laced types go after somebody like a shark after chum."

Miss Elizabeth Jane Grey, a junior high school librarian in a small town in Arkansas, is captured on tape berating a freshman honor roll student for using a highlighter on a copy of Somerset Maugham's "Of Human Bondage". "A book is your friend," she is heard screaming on the grainy videotape. "You wouldn't use a highlighter on a friend--don't use one on a book!"

The student is reduced to tears and in footage shot a week later has broken out in acne, rendering him reluctant to ask Mary Beth Ohlrich, a stunning blonde cheerleader, to the school's annual "Spring Fling!" dance.

The American Librarian's Association issued a press release declaring the film's "subtext of sexual repression" to be a "parody of a burlesque of a farce." "Most of our members are married, some of them happily," said ALA spokeswoman Judith Gaines. "Or have been at one time or another. Or know somebody who is."

Education administrators say the breakdown in student decorum is leading to more frequent and more violent librarian-on-student attacks in school libraries. "It used to be that 'Shhh' meant 'Shhh'," said Earl Bucholz, Assistant Principal at Smith-Cotton High School in Sedalia, Missouri. Now, it's more like 'Time to think about being quiet as soon as I feel like it, you old biddy.'"

Fish and game wardens say librarians are unlikely to attack unless provoked, although they may view late returns of books as a threat. "If your book is overdue you should approach librarians with caution, holding the volume out at arm's length with your hands palm down to show that you are not an aggressor," says Billy Ray Lyman of the Missouri Department of Wildlife. "And don't show fear--librarians can sense when you don't have the two cents a day fine, and they will go for the jugular."

Copyright 2006, Con Chapman

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Microsoft book search engine goes Live

Live Search Books from software giants Microsoft has gone live as a Beta version. The search engine includes content from the British Library which has received significant funding from Microsoft to digitise 25 million pages of out-of-copyright material.

Live Search Books, a rival to Google Book Search which has courted so much controversy, will feature collections from the University of California and Toronto alongside the British Library (BL) archives. A set of new collections are likely to join the service in January 2007.

Unlike Google Book Search, Live Search Books will only feature non-copyrighted material at launch. In-copyright material that publishers have chosen to add to the service will join next year.

Microsoft has made sure the publishing and information industry is clear about its good intentions towards copyright and cites its own experiences with copyright as a software producer constantly fighting against pirates.

Book search results will not be available on the Windows Live Search page initially, but will be integrated next year.

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Stop the destruction of EPA documents and libraries!

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has begun closing its nationwide network of scientific libraries, effectively preventing EPA scientists and the public from accessing vast amounts of data and information on issues from toxicology to pollution. Several libraries have already been dismantled, with their contents either destroyed or shipped to repositories where they are uncataloged and inaccessible.

Stop the destruction of EPA documents and libraries!

Early in the 20th Century German revolutionary leader Rosa Luxemburg said our choice was between socialism and barbarism, today the choice for humanity could very well be between socialism and extinction. We face massive problems with global warming and toxins that have become so prevalent in the environment that dead polar bears in the arctic need to be treated as toxic waste. Yet with all wealth created by the exploitation of labor and the environment, the capitalists see the way to increase their falling rates of profit through increased exploitation of labor and increased exploitation and destruction of the environment. It is in this context that the Environmental Protection Agency is destroying needed documents and libraries in the United States, the worst polluter in the world. With a planned economy the profits of the wealthy will no longer be the motivation for economic activities, human and environmental needs will be. In Cuba, it is because of what they have been able to do with their planned economy that the World Wildlife Fund has named them the only country in the world with sustainable environmental policies.

Stop the destruction of EPA documents and libraries!

Fire EPA Administrator Johnson!

Forward to the world socialist revolution to save the planet!

Steven Argue for Liberation News


[An action alert from the Scientific Integrity Program of the Union of Concerned Scientists moderator]

December 1, 2006
The EPA Closes Its Libraries, Destroys Documents

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has begun closing its nationwide network of scientific libraries, effectively preventing EPA scientists and the public from accessing vast amounts of data and information on issues from toxicology to pollution. Several libraries
have already been dismantled, with their contents either destroyed or shipped to repositories where they are uncataloged and inaccessible.

The scientific information contained in the EPA libraries is essential to the agency's ability to make fully informed decisions that carry out its mission of protecting human health and the environment. Members of Congress have asked the EPA to cease and desist. Please
c all EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson at (202) 564-4700 either today, December 1, or Monday, December 4, and tell him how much scientists rely on data and literature. Urge him to immediately halt the dismantling of the library system until Congress approves the EPA
budget and all materials are readily available online.

Update, 12:40p.m. EST 12/1:

A few of hours ago, we told you that the Environmental Protection Agency has begun closing its scientific libraries. Several libraries have already been dismantled, with their contents either destroyed or shipped to repositories where they are uncataloged and

Calls are already flooding in and we're having an effect. Please keep those calls coming! Call EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson at (202) 564-4700 either today or Monday and tell him how much scientists rely on data and literature. Urge him to immediately halt the dismantling of the library system until Congress approves the EPA budget and all materials are readily available online. Click here to tell us the results of your call.

Unfortunately, we're receiving reports that the EPA is claiming that the Union of Concerned Scientists has false information and that none of the libraries have been closed. Significant evidence proves otherwise.

The Evidence

On the EPA's own library website, the five libraries that have been closed to date have been removed from the list and had their websites partially or completely shut down:

the Headquarters Library

Region 5<>
Region 6

Region 7

and the Office of Prevention, Pollution, and Toxic Substances (OPPTS)

The EPA libraries website links to a plan of action ( f or closing many libraries and dispersing or disposing of materials. We also have first-hand accounts from EPA employees that the libraries have been closed.

The four EPA employees unions have sent a letter ( asking Congress to stop the destruction of the library network. A letter from Representatives Henry Waxman (D-CA), Bart Gordon (D-TN) and John Dingell (D-MI) has prompted an investigation of the library system by the General Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress. And members of both the House and Senate have called upon Administrator Johnson to cease and desist with the closures until the investigation is complete and Congress has authorized action; the House letter calls for a response from the administrator by Monday, December 4, 2006.

Also, several newspapers have reported or editorialized about the library closures, including the Boston Globe (, the Christian Science Monitor (, and Cox Newspapers ( Additional information is provided by the American
Library Association ( and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (

These are large agencies; it is not uncommon for an agency to go into complete denial when confronted with questions such as the ones we are asking. However, this only underscores the importance of putting the administrator's office on notice that we are watching and will hold them accountable.

Please call EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson at (202) 564-4700 either today or Monday. Click here ( to tell us the results of your call.

We will update you on the progress of this effort next week on our website.


Michael Halpern
National Field Organizer
Scientific Integrity Program

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Dewey the cat dies in librarian's arms


The final chapter is closed on Dewey Readmore Books. The 19-year-old cat, who became a mascot for the city's library after being found in a book drop, died Wednesday in the arms of librarian Vicki Myron.

The temperature was minus 10 when Myron and another librarian found Dewey under a pile of books in the library's book drop when they came to work one morning in January 1988.

"We didn't know if someone abandoned him or if a Good Samaritan found him on the street and shoved him in the book drop to get him out of the cold," she said. "His paws were frozen. We warmed him up and fed him and he just purred and cuddled. From day one, we felt he'd be the right personality for the public."

Since then, Dewey became famous, Myron said.

She said TV crews came from as far away as Japan to do stories about him. Myron said she has found 222 "hits" for Dewey on the Internet search engine "Google."

Dewey's name was chosen in a local contest to name him shortly after he was found. He was named after the Dewey Decimal System, a system used in most libraries to catalog books.

Dewey, who Myron said still came running for cheeseburgers, boiled ham and chicken garlic TV dinners, had been experiencing health problems recently and was diagnosed with a stomach tumor shortly before Nov. 18, which was officially marked as his 19th birthday.

After his health rallied, he started "acting funny trying to hide" and Myron decided to take him to the vet and have him euthanized.

Library employee Kim Peterson said the staff is talking about having Dewey cremated and burying his ashes at the library.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

New library a haven for homeless

Reading is a comforting refuge when the streets are cold and shelters are closed


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.
Tiberious Shapiro
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

Pelosi’s Library Past

The new Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, was appointed to the Library Commission in San Francisco on June 3, 1975, according to a fascinating message from James Chaffee, a man who has been watching and correcting that Commission for decades. Chaffee is really the first of the famous civic gadflies that have watched and frequently blown whistles at the administration, directors, and Library Commission of the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL). He thinks it might have been Pelosi’s first public office, to which she was appointed by Republican Mayor Joseph Alioto. It was another 12 years before she was elected to Congress. Although her time as Commissioner lasted only until April, 1976 when the entire Commission was replaced by a new mayor, we can hope it left her with a positive view of libraries that might even result in improved federal support in the 101st Congress.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Marshall Public Library is Getting More Attention Than They Bargained For…

Posted in The Blotter at 10:37 pm by Wayne

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 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."

Eastern WA Library System Sued Over Refusal To Disable Filters

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

Today’s library: Community hub

Bookworms no longer the only patrons

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.

Librarian fired over squirrel trap

By Jason Miller, The News-Dispatch

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.

<>After her termination, she was told she couldn't go to the Coolspring branch for 30 days. If she was spotted at the branch, she said, she'd be arrested.

“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

Libraries in the sand reveal Africa's academic past

by Nick Tattersall
Nov 10

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.


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

Leftovers from Internet Librarian 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 Monterey, California for the 10th annual Internet Librarian Conference. Sponsored by Information Today, Inc., the conference focused on “using, developing, and embracing Net- and Web-based strategies” in librarians. Librarians from public, academic, special, and government libraries attended.

Best of Resource Shelf

Gary Price of Resource Shelf and highlighted lots of new websites for information professionals and the general public. His list with links is on the web at Missing from the list is FlightAware which lets searchers see exactly where commercial airplanes are in real time.

Mashup Applications

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 Illinois.

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,

Editor, ResourceShelf
Editor, DocuTicker

October, 2006

Search Engine Ordering


DocuTicker, 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)

ResourceShelf Collections
+ Art Museums
Note Technology at The Hermitage. See Also, Riya
and Other CBIR Tools

+ Real-Time Collection


National Library Workers Day 2007 is April 17!


Not too early to begin planning.
National Library Workers Day 2007 is April 17!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

EPA official tries to allay library fears

by Aliya Sternstein

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.

Monday, October 16, 2006

New Collection Of Books Available At Tuolumne County Library

Tuolumne County Library Officials have some exciting news for those interested in historic preservation.

They say a collection of books helpful to owners of vintage buildings and others interested in historic preservation is now available at the Tuolumne County Library, thanks to a generous donation by the Tuolumne Heritage Committee of Sonora.

The books cover a variety of topics including archaeology, building codes for historic buildings, and tax advantages of restoration. One of the books, A Richer Heritage, reportedly gives a detailed look at the status of preservation in America, its strategies, values, and future directions. For more information go to

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