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.