Sunday, January 28, 2007

Certificate in Digital Information Management

Bruce Fulton writes "The University of Arizona School of Information Resources and Library Science and the University of Arizona Office of Continuing Education and Academic Outreach are now accepting applications from students interested in a new post-baccalaureate certificate program in Digital Information Management (DigIn). DigIn will provide hands-on experience and focused instruction for people seeking new careers in or improving their skills and knowledge of digital archives, digital libraries, digital document repositories and other kinds of digital collections.

The explosion of digital information and the growth of on-line digital resources has led to a shortage of individuals with an understanding of the disciplines of libraries, document management and archives who also have the technical knowledge and skills needed to create, manage and support digital information collections. The six course 18 credit hour graduate program will provide both new students and working professionals with a balanced mix of content that includes practical applied technology skills along with a foundation in the theory and practice of building and maintaining today’s digital collections. Certificate holders will be well positioned for careers in libraries, archives, local, state and federal government and the private sector.

All coursework is online, so students will not need to take time off work or travel for courses. The program may be completed in 18-30 months and starts each summer with two required courses, Introduction to Applied Technology and Introduction to Digital Collections. The certificate program has been developed in cooperation with The Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records. Major funding for program development comes from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), which has also provided funding for a limited number of scholarships. For more information and to apply, visit the University of Arizona Office of Continuing Education and Academic Outreach website at The deadline for scholarship applications and admission to the program starting this summer is March 1, 2007."

Friday, January 26, 2007

What libraries can learn from bookstores: Applying bookstore design to public libraries

by Chris Rippel, Central Kansas Library System, Great Bend, Kansas

Bookstore owners and managers have spent much time and money experimenting how to entice customers into their stores and help them select and buy books. This article explores how librarians might adapt the techniques bookstores use to communicate to customers.

Some librarians will ask whether bookstore staff merely push the latest bestseller or do they try to match readers to books? Though Barnes and Noble staff are not trained to match readers and books, B & N staff are encouraged to take books home and read them. The front of Barnes and Noble stores have shelves for "staff recommendations." In the independent Watermark bookstore in Wichita, Kansas, staff recommendations are grouped by staff name because customers learn which staff recommends the books they prefer. Even if library staff know more about books than bookstore staff, few libraries have staff recommended shelves. In most libraries, patrons must ask library staff what books the latter recommends.

This article is not suggesting that librarians should alter their focus on building collections, matching readers to books, promoting education, preserving culture and local history, access to information, etc. This article invites librarians to study and apply techniques bookstores use to communicate with customers so that librarians can communicate better with their patrons.

This article summarizes numerous articles about browsing and displays in libraries, store design, creating atmosphere in stores. Micheal Hadden, Director of the Schaumburg (Illinois) Township District Library, generously provided excellent pictures of the Hanover Park Branch Library. This library was designed in the bookstore style.

Jane Fink, head of the Creative Services and Promotion Department of the Daviess County Public Library in Owensboro, Kentucky, emailed me excellent pictures and descriptions of their creative displays. Library Director Deborah Mesplay says her library "works very hard to promote community events ... via the library displays. We now have numerous organizations contacting us and asking if we will put up a display on a particular subject or issue that relates to an organizational activity." Finally, I received valuable insights into the workings of Barnes and Noble bookstores through an interview with Linda Flanders, an ex-supervisor of the children's section of a Barnes and Noble bookstore in Wichita, Kansas. Linda has also served on a library board and now works for the Central Kansas Library System in Great Bend, Kansas.

The interview with Linda began talking about how Barnes and Noble staff do their jobs.

Everyone is crosstrained to do everything. My source, supervisor of the children's section, was taught how to make lattes. The cafe staff can direct customers to the mystery section or any other place in the store. Lists of the bestsellers are posted in strategic places (e.g., near thecash registers). Everyone is expected to be able to rattle off the top ten or so bestsellers and where they are in the store. Staff is constantly fed sheets warning when titles will be released or are coming to the store. Everyone takes daily turns at the checkout counter.

Crosstraining would benefit libraries. Training circulation and reference staff in the mysteries of interlibrary loan would increase their ability to answer questions and advise patrons about the interlibrary loan process. Crosstraining catalogers and reference staff could produce better cataloging for use by reference staff and improve reference staff's understanding of the access provided by cataloging.

Barnes & Noble floor staff spend most of their days in an assigned area shelving new books and helping customers. When customers enter their section, staff makes contact with the customer to show help is near. In many libraries, by contrast, staff are not trained to great people walking in the front door or invite patrons to ask questions. Many library staff appear unaware that patrons need to be invited to ask questions.

Differences between bookstores and libraries

During the interview, I eventually asked for a list of differences between bookstores and libraries. Linda began talking about atmospheric differences between bookstores and libraries. According to Raynetmarketing Business and Marketing Glossary at, retail atmospherics is "designing buying environments to produce specific customer emotional reactions that enhance purchase probability. It includes ... layout, colour, smells, music, lighting, materials etc."

  • Smell. Linda says customers entering Barnes and Noble stores smell coffee and pastries in the cafe and patrons entering libraries don't. Joseph Weishar in Design for Effective Selling Space (p. 43) identifies the associations of different odors.
    • Cinnamon, coffee, apples - homecooking, warm, family, cozy (By the way, men may be especially susceptible to the smell of cinnamon buns.)
    • Orange - healthy and bright
    • Lemon - fresh, clean
    • Wood - general country hardware store
    • Mildew - damp, basement

Too many libraries smell of must and mildew. Such smells are unpleasant for everyone and unhealthy for many. Library staff should smell donations and not add stinky books to their collections.They should track down and eliminate the causes of musty and mildew smells.

Here are tips for eliminating musty smells.

Consumers perceive higher quality goods in scented stores. Burning scented candles is expensive and dangerous in a library. Retail consultant Linda Cahan advises opening all windows and doors and use fans to blow in clean air when possible. This makes everyone, staff and customers, feel better. Immediately before the store opens burn a mixture of cedar chips and sage in a small frying pan. When the mixture has burned, blow out the flames. Carry the smoking frying pan all over the store, backrooms and even the basement. This fills the store with a wonderful scent.

- Source: "Stores with soul" by Linda Cahan in Gifts and Decorative Accessories, Vol. 103, June 2002, p. 20+

  • Music. When we discussed music, my interviewee explained differences in the target markets for Barnes and Noble vs. Borders. B&N's target market is baby boomers. Border's target market, she claimed, is generation-Xers. This difference in target explained three differences between the chains. Barnes and Noble has a stricter dress code than Borders, B&N stores are more spread out than Borders. B&N plays classical music provided by headquarters in New York. Borders plays more jazzy music.

Experimenters discovered that music makes a big difference in customer behavior. Slow music increases supermarket sales 38% and liquor sales in restaurants. Classical and pop music increases sales better than easy listening and silence.

- Source: "The effect of music on atmosphere and purchase intentions in a cafeteria" by Adrian C. North, et. al. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, Vol. 28, pp 2254-2273.

Music also affects what is bought. During a two week experiment in a restaurant, on the days when French music was played French wine outsold German wine. On the days German music was played German wine outsold French wine. Only 10% of customers said the music affected their choice.

- Source: "The Influence of in-store music on wine selections" by Adrian C. North, et. al. Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 84, 1999, pp. 271-276.

Music is controversial in libraries because many library lovers prefer quiet. Nevertheless, music may be appropriate in some libraries of in some areas of the library. During non-peak times at the South Branch Library of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library a boom-box on the circulation desk plays Latino music. Music can also enliven the waiting period before programs start. My Barnes and Noble interviewee is a preacher's wife. She says music is played before the church service to encourage people to visit rather than sit silently waiting for the service to begin.

  • Lighting. Barnes and Noble stores are brighter than most libraries. Experts claim high levels of light suggest lower prices. Discount stores have equally bright lighting over the entire store. Lower levels of light suggest good quality and even exclusivity. Luxury stores have low general lighting so spotlights can illuminate displays.

Before adding florescent lights to brighten the entire library equally, consider variation in brightness. Circulation, reference, and stacks need bright, even lighting. Lower, general lighting, however, is useful for highlighting certain areas. Here are two examples.

    • I believe libraries should be second homes for the community's readers. Consider a creating homey reading areas in a generally lower lit area with good reading lamps on side tables lighting comfortable chairs. Incandescent bulbs in reading lamps provide a warm glow inviting readers to sit down and read.
    • Lower general light allows easy illumination of books displays. Illuminated displays receive twice the attention of non-illuminated displays. Illuminating displays is discussed below.

Two examples of book displays near the circulation desk in the

Daviess County Public Library in Owensboro, Kentucky.

My thanks to Jane Fink for the photographs and information about the displays in this library.

Placing the circulation desk to the right of the front door makes returning books convenient. If the display space near the front door is limited, a slatwall pillar like the one shown on the right has a smaller footprint than a table and provides an attractive and effective way to display numerous books.

The area around Barnes and Noble cash registers contains numerous displays to attract the impulsive buyer. Daviess County Public Library uses book stands on the circulation desk and all other desks to promote books on hot topics "In the News."

  • Power aisles. are major aisles leading customers to all parts of the store. Power aisles also contain major displays of merchandise. Barnes and Noble has two power aisles cutting the store into four quarters. One aisle leads from front to back of the store. This aisle leads customers back to the music section in those stores with music sections. A second aisle, perpendicular to the first aisle, goes from left to right. This aisle leads to the childrens' section on one side of the store and to the computer software section before B&N dropped software from its inventory.

People tend to walk faster on hard floors and slower on carpet. Many stores have linoleum or tile aisles leading people through the store. Carpet is used between racks of merchandise. Extra plush carpet is used in areas where especially luxurious merchandise is displayed.

Librarians should observe how patrons move through your library. Here is a way to discover patterns of patron movement in a library. Make a simple map of the library. This map does not have to be to scale, but it should record furniture, collections, and other objects patrons may use. As patrons enter the library draw lines recording their path through the library. Record the paths of 25 to 50 patrons on the same map until traffic patterns begin to emerge. Major book displays should be located along major paths of traffic. These patterns will also show which parts of the collection are being used and not used.

Reducing Information Overload

During the interview, Linda said, "I could walk into a Barnes and Noble and in ten minutes walk out with a book and a latte. If I walked into a library it would take me a hour to to find a book and I would leave without the latte." Linda was referring to Barnes and Noble's practice of shelving by genre. Studies of patron behavior reveal the benefits of shelving by genre in libraries.

In 1907, William A. Borden pulled books from the fiction shelves to set up special shelving for historical novels and detectve fiction. During two years of observation, Borden noticed patrons who previously only browsed the new books began selecting books from the genre shelves as well. Readers also began picking lesser-known authors within their chosen genre.

- Source: "On classifying fiction" by William A. Borden.

- Library Journal, June 1909, pp. 264-265.

Librarians frequently complain that patrons read mostly new books while good, older books remain unread. For patrons unfamiliar with authors and titles, trying to select one book from shelves of thousands of books, is like trying to select the best brick in a wall. They all look alike. Borden's observations suggest that:

  • Patrons are most attracted to new books when this is the only collection presentation of books in limited numbers browsers can comprehend.
  • Patrons will select older books when they too are presented in limited numbers.

Sharon Baker's experiments during the 1980s found that circulation of classified fiction (i.e., shelved by genre) increased with the size of the library. In a library of only 2,500 volumes, circulation of classified fiction increased use only 39%. In a 6,000 volume library, 49%. In a library with 15,500 volumes circulation increased 349%.

- Source: "Will classification schemes increase use" by Sharon L. Baker. RQ, Spring 1988.

Short ranges of free-standing shelves more clearly separates genres. Barnes and Noble uses short free-standing shelves in the center area. Hanover Park Branch Library also uses shelving short in height and length. The short height establishes an openness to the small space. The short length provides more end-panels for displaying items face-front. The top shelf is also slanted for face-front displays. Above each section is a large attractive sign identifying the contents.

Librarians sometimes object to shelving by genre.

  • Some fiction books are hard to classify. Barnes and Nobel solves this problem by placing copies of books every place someone may look for a title and by training staff where books are and asking patrons to tell what kind of book it is. "Is it a mystery?"

When authors write in several genre, patrons can't find all the books by that author. One solution to this problem would be book dummies with messages telling patrons other locations for that author's other books.

Hanover Park Branch Library shelving offers space for front-face displays. My thanks to Michael Madden, Director of the Schaumburg (Illinois) Township District Library, for providing pictures of this library.

For those librarians not wishing to arrange their collection by genre, other methods for reducing information over load are described below.

  • Booklists do provide browsers recommended list of books. Booklists, however, face two challenges. Photocopying 8.5" by 11" booklists can become expensive. Placing booklists into the hands of patrons when needed can be difficult. Stacks of booklists are often located where patrons seldom look, especially not at the time patrons are needing them.

The following suggestion is cheaper than reproducing a stack of 8.5" X 11" booklists and puts the booklist at the spot where browsers are likely to be looking.

  • Make booklists. For fiction, identify the most popular authors (e.g., Stephen King, Danielle Steel, Tom Clancy) read by your patrons. Below are links to Web-sites listing the top selling authors, followed by lists of lesser-known authors who write like or one similar topics of the top selling authors. Identify the lesser-known authors in your collection. Make "If you like [give the name of a top-selling author], try [list the lesser-known authors in your collection]." These booklists direct patrons from authors most patrons have read to lesser-know authors in your collection.
  • Type these booklists including your library's name and hours at the bottom of the list or on the back of 3.5" by 8.5" bookmarks. This size bookmark will allow 3 bookmarks on one 8.5" by 11" page. Photocopy and cut out the bookmarks.
  • Punching holes at the top allows hanging the bookmarks on hooks attached to the end-panels nearest to the books by the top-selling author or, in the case of non-fiction nearest the books by the topic of the bookmark.
  • Or paste the bookmark on the spine of a book dummy (i.e., piece of wood the size of a book). Place the book dummy on the shelves between the bestseling author's books. This puts booklists in the spots browsers are mostly likely to find the information when needed.

The following online sites offer "If you like..., try...." for the creation of the bookmarks described above.

Sharon Baker discovered that merely placing a red dot on spines of books on the regular shelves with signs on the end panels saying red dots mean recommended books increased circulation of those books by 9% to 179%. Dots of different colors could represent different genres, different awards (e.g., Nebula vs. Hugo) or different sources of recommendation (e.g., Modern Library list best novels). Here are some sources providing lists of books to dot.

This dot-recommend system could be publicized by rewarding patrons reading the most recommended books. Keeping records for reading recommended books. At a yearly pot luck dinner, hand-out certificates recognizing readers who have read specific numbers of dot-recommended books.

  • Book displays are the most effective way to recommend books. Standing books up on a low table is boring and suggests that the books are insignificant. Effective displays will recommend the books by being located where the display will be seen; will attract the eye with color and signage and making the books important.
  • Attracting the eye.

Daviess County Public Library in Owensboro, Kentucky creates eye-catching displays based on color instead of topic. They have a "white sale" display each January. On this display all books have white covers. The library also has displays of different colors. One display was called "Think Pink." Jane Fink, head of the Creative Services & Promotions Department, writes, "You'd be surprised how many [pink covers] there are, and no, they are not all feminine topics." For July 2002, the library displayed "red, white and blue" books. The topics of these books were not patriotic, they just have red, white and blue covers.

  • Signage. Barnes and Noble uses some signs to entice customers to stop and look at displays. Barnes and Noble does not use many signs because they expect staff to maintain personal contact with customers.

In Why we buy: the science of shopping, Paco Underhill writes, "Take a look at that [bookstore] wall, over near the information desk. What do you see? This week's New York Times 'Best seller list,' or rather a grimy copy of it, taped up. Next to it is a rather grimy photocopy of the Modern Library list of the so-called one-hundred top novels of the twentieth century. Have you ever seen a more pathetic display of such useful and interesting information?" Underhill advises that such lists should be reproduced in large print for easy reading over displays of books on the list.

Sign readability is a combination of the color contrast between the letters and their background, the shape of the letters and the size of the letters.

      • Color contrast. Studies reveal that the difference in the amount of light reflected by the colors of letters and background are important for readability. Readable signs have either the letters reflect a lot of light on backgrounds relfecting little light or the reverse. The smaller the letters on a sign the greater the contrast that is needed to keep the sign readable.

Below is the ranking of color combinations from most readable to least readable.

          1. Black on yellow
          2. Black on white
          3. Yellow on black
          4. White on blue
          5. Yellow on blue
          6. Green on white
          7. Blue on yellow
          8. White on green

- Source: Sign systems for libraries by Dorothy Pollett, et. al., page 238

        • Shape of letters.
          1. Block lettering (i.e., san serif) is most easily read for signs.
          2. Signs of less than four words can be written in capital letters. More than four words should be written in combinations of upper and lower case.

- Source: Sign systems for libraries by Dorothy Pollett, et. al., page 239-40

        • Size of letters. How far away will patrons be when they read the sign? Size the letters so they are easily read at the furthest distance patrons are likely to read the sign.
          1. At 8 feet, make 1 inch tall letters or, in wordprocessor, 95 point size.
          2. At 16 feet, make letters 2 inches tall, 190 point size.
          3. At 32', 4 inch letters, 380 point size.
          4. At 64', 8 inch letters, 760 point size.
        • Signs intended for people far away can be hung from ceilings. However, if signs are too high they will not be easily seen. Peoples easily see objects from eye level upward about 30 degrees.
          • At 5 feet away from the sign, the sign can be as high as 6' and still be easily seen.
          • At 10 feet away, signs can be 7' off the ground and still be seen.
          • At 20 feet, signs can be 8' 8" feet off the ground.
          • At 30 feet, signs can be 10' off the ground.

- Source: Designing and space planning for libraries: A behavioral approach by Aaron Dohen, et. Al. 1979, pp. 205-206.

Endcap in Daviess County Public Library, Owensboro, Kentucky.

Daviess County Library also uses eye-catching displays based on color.

      • Lighting displays. Studies show that illuminated displays are looked at twice as much and twice as long as unilluminated displays. My informant saw the effect of lighting displays first hand. In her children's section was a "porch." The porch was an overhang with two supporting uprights. Plush animals are displayed on the porch. When my informant started working at B&N almost nothing on the porch sold. One day the district manager visited the store. He took one look at the porch and asked for a ladder. He got up and adjusted the lights. Within three weeks everything on the porch sold. Below is information to help you select display lights.

Hanover Park's wallshelves offer display areas at the top and in the middle. The top area is lit to attract attention. Though large signs identify the contents of the shelves the books are arranged in Dewey Decimal order.

Lighting in the top of the wall shelves in the Hanover Park Branch Library light the top several rows of books.

Halogen lamps are an incandescent light like regular light bulbs. They cost between $50 and $200 dollars depending on the wattage, but they run about 20% more efficiently than regular incandescent light bulbs. The spot light shape of their bulbs makes them suitable for displays.

Ceramic metal-halide lamps are currently recommended for displays. They provide a white, spotlight bright enough to illuminate displays in well-lit rooms. Furthermore, they are very cost-efficient and their bulbs last 4 to 20 times longer than incandescent bulbs. The initial purchase is expensive. They require special fixtures, their bulbs are very expensive. Care must to taken to place them in the fixtures correctly. However, the bulbs long life and cost-effiency saves money in the long run.

Ceramic Metal-halide Fact sheet #2 (

Daviess County Public Library supports many activities in town with displays of library materials. This is an exhibit of Civil War materials in the library in partnership with a Civil War exhibit in a local museum.

      • Daviess County organizations have grown to value library displays in promoting the local events. Library Director Deborah Mesplay writes, "We now have numerous organizations contacting us and asking if we will put up a display on a particular subject or issue that relates to an organizational activity." Jane Fink of the library's Creative Services & Promotions Department writes that the library has done displays on adoption and foster parenting for CASA, nutrition for the local County Extension Office, women in politics and women get the vote for the local League of Women Voters, water resources for the utility company and many more.
      • Recommending books on display dramatically increases the number of books taken off the display. The Miami Township Branch of the Dayton and Montgomery County Library in Ohio found displayed books with recommendations are 2.6 times more likely to be taken than displayed books without recommendations.

Library staff and patrons write recommendations on the cards. I created a template card that can be printed out and photocopied.

Whenever patrons mention liking a book, staff ask patrons to write a one- or two-sentence recommendation on the card. Here are two sample recommendations. "A gut-wrenching thriller, sensational thriller! Not for the faint of heart." "I laughed so hard chocolate milk came out my nose."

The card is placed in the book with "Recommended book" written on the top of the card showing above the top of the book. Recommended books are placed on shelves in slotted endpanels. Many patrons zip into the library and go straight to these displays; quickly choose a book, check it out and zip back out to their car. When recommended books are checked out, cards are removed and kept at the circulation desk to be replaced in books are checked-in.

Below are links to more book display ideas.

Promotion of non-fiction reading (

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Informed Librarian

ALL of your professional reading in one place, at one time - now available as a newsletter and web site! View a free sample issue

THE INFORMED LIBRARIAN ONLINE is a monthly compilation of the most recent tables of contents from over 305 titles - valuable domestic and foreign library and information-related journals, e-journals, magazines, e-magazines, newsletters and e-newsletters. View the list in subject collections.

This current awareness service helps keep you informed and abreast of all library trends. It is an easy, timesaving way to tame your professional reading tiger, and is very popular among all types of library and information professionals.

Features of each issue

Highlights of this site

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Report: Public Libraries & the Internet

"The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that researchers at Florida State University will be able to continue studying Internet use patterns at public libraries for at least 3 more years. A grant to the university's College of Information from the ALA will help to continue it's biennial surveys on the costs and benefits of Internet connectivity.

Here's The Report

The 2006 national study presents findings from both a national survey and
case sites. The national survey provides longitudinal data regarding public library Internet connectivity and public access computing services and resources, but also explores the impacts and benefits that communities derive from public library connectivity. The case sites focused primarily on successfully networked public libraries and the issues, solutions, and approaches that these libraries faced and resolved in order to develop sustainable and high quality public access computing and Internet services.

pdf icon

Public Libraries and the Internet 2006: Study Results and Findings (1.16 MB)
By John Carlo Bertot, Charles R. McClure, Paul T. Jaeger, & Ryan J. (Sep 2006)
For: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and The American Library Association

The 2006 report is also available in sections.

There are also two specialized reports thus far regarding the 2006 Public Libraries and the Internet study. These reflect developments in wireless Internet access provided by public libraries as well as the significant roles and contributions public libraries played during the 2004-2005 hurricane seasons in the Gulf States.

pdf icon

Public Libraries and the Internet 2006: A Special Report on Wireless Access (67 KB)
By John C. Bertot, Charles R. McClure, Paul T. Jaeger, & Lesley Langa. (May 2006)
For: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and The American Library Association

pdf icon

Public Libraries and the Internet 2006: A Special Report on Public Libraries and the 2006 Hurricanes (84 KB)
By John C. Bertot, Paul T. Jaeger, Charles R. McClure, & Lesley Langa. (May 2006)
For: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and The American Library Association


This report presents national and state data from the 2004 Public Libraries and Networked Information Services survey funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the American Library Association. A primary goal of the study was to provide the library community with current information that describes public library activities in the networked environment. The report summarizes findings at the library outlet and system level for all questions on the survey.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Libraries and Privacy

In an ALA Washington Office press release, FBI Director's Comments to Senate Reveal Continued Hostility Toward Libraries, Privacy, it is noted that in a written response to the U.S. Senate, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Robert S. Mueller III again demonstrated that "the Department of Justice fails to comprehend the role of libraries and the importance of privacy in the United States."

"It's been made clear on several occasions that the Senate intends for libraries to be protected," said ALA President Leslie Burger, "but the FBI willfully ignores the intent and maintains its correctness in the law."

See also Mueller's answers in their entirety (PDF) and USA PATRIOT Act and Intellectual Freedom.

See also Privacy Lost and Regained and The Erosion of Privacy.

Friday, January 12, 2007

10 Blogs To Read in 2006

"10 Blogs To Read in 2006" came from my quest to find the people doing the most interesting and original writing on the web. Here is a group of librarians working hard to increase understanding our profession and it's place in the rapidly evolving online world. I tried to choose 10 writers who cover very different aspects of our profession, 10 sites that inform, educate and amuse.

You can think approach this list as just one man's limited understanding of what's being written by people writing about libraries on the web. I think you'll also find it a great place to find something new to read.

Most importantly I hope you'll use it as list you can send to your friends and coworkers who have a negative opinion of blogs.
  1. The ALA Tech Blog
  2. Carnival of the Infosciences
  3. Lorcan Dempsey's blog
  4. A Librarian's Guide to Etiquette
  5. Catalgablog
  6. Library Marketing-Thinking Outside the Book
  7. The Kept-Up Academic Librarian
  9. Library Link Of The Day
  10. Conservator
Below you'll find expanded descriptions, and some thoughts on the creation of the list.
(Cross Posted to the LISWiki)

1. The ALA Tech Blog. ( The ALA Tech Blog is a breed apart from the rest of us. They are a group of talented writers paid to write. They have an editor, and they write lengthy original posts. In short they're everything I've been trying to make LISNews be for the past 6 years, they just found the money to do it. Though their focus is narrow, the Tech Source Blog should be a shining example of what any collaborative blog could be.

2. Carnival of the Infosciences ( The Carnival of the Infosciences is a weekly weblog post that endeavors to showcase the best posts in the blogosphere about topics related to the wide world of Library and Information Science. Started by Greg "Open Stacks" Schwartz, the carnival moves from site to site each week and is a great place to focus if you want to know what's going on in the minds of those who write library blogs. The Carnival summarizes writings from dozens of sites in one place.

3. Lorcan Dempsey's blog ( Though it seems hard to believe he'd have time to write so much and still work as the VP of research at OCLC, Lorcan Dempsey proves that not all bloggers are underplayed kids with too much time on their hands. His posts are insightful, interesting and well thought out.

4. A Librarian's Guide to Etiquette ( "A polite librarian is a good librarian." Sometimes snarky, occasionally nasty and almost always hilarious, the LGE is a perfect Friday afternoon stop if you need a good laugh.

5. Catalogablog ( Just in case you think there's nothing you need to know about cataloging, add David Bigwood's site to you list of reading. Who would've thought cataloging could be so interesting? The OPAC is still the backbone of the library, and how things end up in there should be on the top of your mind.

6. Library Marketing-Thinking Outside the Book: ( Jill Stover's description says it all; "Resources, readings, news and ideas for librarians who seek outside-the-book marketing innovations for their libraries." Jill points to a wide variety of sites that can help spark ideas you can use to better market your library and yourself.

7. The Kept-Up Academic Librarian ( Steven Bell describes his site as " designed to provide academic librarians with news about developments, events, new research, and more - almost any news about higher education I can find that may be of interest to an academic librarian." If you're working in an academic library you should get Kept-Up on a regular basis.

8. ( Jessamyn has probably been on ever damn list of blogs ever written by a librarian. She writes regularly, covers some interesting and original stuff, and she's been doing it longer than any of us new kids. Her writing covers many different areas of librarianship, and is good for it's breadth of coverage.

9. Library Link Of The Day: ( A daily link for library enthusiasts. Also available via e-mail or an RSS feed. The Link O' The Day is a blog that posts only one link a day, so is it really a blog? Well, it's close enough . It's easy to fell overwhelmed when presented with 20 links from one site in a single day, why not just focus on one?

10. Conservator ( Conservator's "Thoughts on libraries and freedom". If you're a librarian chances are you're not conservative, and I bet you don't read much from those on the other side. Conservator is one place to get a feel for why the other side is right, and you're so wrong. Jack Steven's opinionated site provides a different view point of what a librarian's role is in society, and how a conservative approaches what is a very liberal profession.

This was a tough list to compile.

If you followed Chris's A-List post you'll notice only Jessamyn made my list. I tried to be a bit more subjective, or maybe subjective in a different way. I was looking for people who wrote about libraries on a regular basis, and when I looked at the group of 10, I wanted to see diversity. I was much more limited than Walt's Great List "Investigating the Biblioblogosphere" which would've taken me about a year to finish had I attempted a list like his. I also decided against using the PubSub Librarian List, though it would've made sense. I did use it as a place to make sure I hadn't missed anyone, but I'm still a bit sceptical of the links=authority idea. Still, the PubSub list makes for some interesting reading.

It feels like this took me forever to finish. I first sent out a call for nominations last October. The file sat for months before I picked it up again a few weeks ago. Since then I've been slowly subtracting names from the original list of about 50 sites. I thought I might be done a couple weeks ago, but I was never happy with the final list, and I'm not 100% happy with the list now, but I am about 80% sure, and that's going to have to do for now. This is the reason why I've labeled this the Blogs to read for 2006, each year the list should be revisited. That's also the reason I dropped a copy on LISWiki. I took off many names that should be there, and left one or two I'm not sure should be.

For example, I excluded my good friend Steven M. Cohen, not because I don't like what he writes, but because he doesn't write about libraries much these days. There's nothing wrong with that, but I'm really trying to focus on librarian oriented stuff for this list. I also had to exclude C&I since it's published just once a month, and because it comes out in PDF format, and although I've always considered it very "bloggish", it seemed like a real stretch to put it on the list.

My goal here was to incorporate ideas from a variety of sources, build a list based on what everyone else thought, and make some subjective judgment calls based on what 10 blogs I think will give you a good overview of what's going on in the LIS world. This list should provide anyone with an interest in librarianship an introduction to what's happening in our field.

No that I'm finished I feel like I have a much better understanding of what's being written by bloggers. It occurred to me time and time again while I was working on this list that people who dismiss blogs as being worthless are really missing out. I always thought Gorman had a point, but now I'm convinced he chose to retire a few years too late. You might want to send this list to your coworkers who think bloggers are a bunch of teenage girls writing about Bennifer. This might be a list they can start with to see what's going on, and what they're missing out on.

I also decided to leave the list at 10. I started making an "honorable mention" list, but it grew to outnumber the original 10, which seemed to be counter productive. There's also a couple blogs I wanted to include but they're so poorly done I can't possibly recommend them, even though some of what they write would be worth reading, much of it was just nonsense. I tried as much as possible to leave my personal feelings about authors and the subject matter out, hence you see one blog written by someone who told me "you make me sick" and another written by an organization I don't support. I also trimmed a few blogs from the list because they got too "personal". Remember, my goal was a list of people who write about libraries, not what they're up to personally. If I have more time I'll write my thought process behind each choice, who they beat out and why I chose them. If you don't like my list, please do supply your own, or let me know who I missed or who I should've left off. About half of the list was easy, it was the other 5 that took me awhile to settle on.

Don't like it? Change It. I'd like to see someone fit a public library oriented blog and a school library oriented blog into the mix. I tried, but couldn't decide who to remove.

Below I've tried to explain why I chose each site. It'll be interesting to see which site I am most thoroughly abused for including.

The ALA Tech Blog. ( This was the easiest one for me. Say what you will about the ALA, I hope you'll agree the Tech Bloggers are doing some fine work.

Carnival of the Infosciences ( The carnival seemed like an obvious choice because it covers so much. It also seemed like it didn't quite fit because it's not "A" blog, but rather can be on any blog. In the end I decided it's "meta" and makes a great starting point for an intro to what we're up to in our little world.

Lorcan Dempsey's blog ( Lorcan was at first a tough choice. He was in my initial list, and then popped on and off as I worked my way through all the other names. In the end his consistency and insights made his writing stand above others.

A Librarian's Guide to Etiquette ( Humor is subjective. That being said, if you don't think this is funny you're just wrong.

Catalgablog ( Cataloging has always seemed to me to be the unsung hero in the library business. As uninteresting as catalog is, I've always thought David does a great job at finding interesting nuggets to write baout

Library Marketing-Thinking Outside the Book: ( Librarians do a terrible job marketing themselves. We need more people who aren't afraid to find new ways to make us all look good.

The Kept-Up Academic Librarian ( I think Steven does the best job in posting academic oriented stories. I wanted to find a Public and School Library site similar, but I couldn't do it. PLABlog came close, but it didn't make the cut. There must be a Public and an SLMS site out there somewhere I'm missing. Kept-Up seems like the best place to keep up in academia. ( The final three were some of the most difficult. Jessamyn has been doing it longer than anyone else, something that I couldn't over look. She also does a good job, better than most. There is no shortage of sites similar, but I think her style and experience makes her a standout.

Library Link Of The Day: ( Is it really a blog? I guess so. There are days when reading 30 stories @LISNews are overwhelming for me, so I can just imagine it's very easy for other folks to get turned off by feeling overwhelmed. I think John's approach to posting a single like is like the "easy listening" approach to blogging.

Conservator ( If there's a million librarian blogs, 900,950 are written by people who aren't conservative. Most of the other 50 are just painful. I found Conservators approach to be far from balanced, but the most informative, which is was a requirement to be included. There's plenty of blogs written by one person that take a political view point on things, after looking at them all this is the one I settled on.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Welcome to the Working Class Movement Library

The Working Class Movement Library (WCML) is a collection of English language books, periodicals, pamphlets, archives and artefacts, concerned with the activities, expression and enquiries of the labour movement, its allies and its enemies, since the late 1700s.

Please use the links to the left to navigate this site. If you are new to the library we suggest you start with "About the WCML"

The Case of the Missing Books, by Ian Sansom

posted by birdie

From Booklist: "Librarians have found themselves a new hero in Israel Armstrong."

From Kirkus Reviews: "A buoyant series kickoff....Sansom writes with refreshing deftness and sharp wit."

And from The Clarion-Ledger a review of what seems to be delightful read, particularly for librarians...

The Case of the Missing Books (Mobile Library Mysteries) by Ian Sansom.

Publisher HarperCollins describes this first of a series thusly: "Israel Armstrong is a passionate soul, lured to Ireland by the promise of an exciting new career. Alas, the job that awaits him is not quite what he had in mind. Still, Israel is not one to dwell on disappointment, as he prepares to drive a mobile library around a small, damp Irish town. After all, the scenery is lovely, the people are charming ; but where are the books? The rolling library's 15,000 volumes have mysteriously gone missing, and it's up to Israel to discover who would steal them...and why. And perhaps, after that, he will tackle other bizarre and perplexing local mysteries like, where does one go to find a proper cappuccino and a decent newspaper?"

A nebbish-y librarian, who woulda thunk it??

Friday, January 05, 2007

More Details on EPA Library Closures

Details on the recent EPA library closings in a pdf from the Federation of American Scientists.

Optimistically, the end of the six-page report states: "Because FY2007 appropriations have not been enacted, there could be subsequent opportunities in the legislative process to address this issue if the 110th Congress so chooses."

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Librarian: One of Best Careers for 2007

Doctor. Lawyer. Business executive. Most people planning a career aim for professions they know the most about. But those aren't always the best jobs. In its Best Careers 2007 guide, U.S. News has sifted through trends in the economy and the workplace and has identified 25 professions that will be in growing demand as baby boomers age, the Internet becomes ubiquitous, and Americans seek richer, simpler lives. All of the jobs offer a great mix of pay, status, and quality of life. Many are not surprising, such as engineer, pharmacist, and dentist.

But many others might be. Even though anybody can do a Google search, for instance, librarians will be needed more and more to help us navigate all that digital information. Audiologists will find plenty of work helping aging boomers retain their hearing. And did you ever consider how satisfying life as a politician might be? Making a difference for constituents "has been the greatest joy of my life," says California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Not surprisingly, nine of the 25 careers in the U.S. News list are in healthcare. Physician is one, although the lengthy training and thicket of regulations governing medicine are dimming the allure. Other healthcare jobs require far less training, have better hours, and offer the same satisfaction that comes from caregiving. Optometrists, for instance, typically work predictable hours, and they regularly watch patients walk out the door in better shape than when they came in. Physician assistants are rapidly replacing doctors as primary-care providers, and they earn healthy salaries with far less schooling. Science-minded high achievers might consider becoming a medical scientist instead of a doctor, since advances in genetics and other disciplines are leading to a revolution in preventing and curing disease.

U.S. News also identified a number of desirable careers in the nonprofit and government sectors, where job security is usually strong. School psychologists work hands-on with kids, from disabled to gifted. Urban planners help design communities wisely. Higher-education administrators and professors work in highly stimulating job environments–college campuses–and get to keep learning themselves. Many such careers appeal to people who want to make a difference.

The list also takes into account the trend among employers to outsource jobs that can be done more cheaply in low-cost countries like India and China. That's one reason a lot of popular computer-related jobs no longer make the cut. Not long ago, it seemed like a smart move to become a website developer or software engineer. But the market for those jobs is softening, as American firms send much of the work to India and China, where armies of programmers and software engineers crank out code for far less than their American counterparts. Other jobs, however, can't really be done by somebody overseas. Occupational therapists, clergy, and management consultants, for example, work directly with clients, which requires personal presence and a human touch. Those careers are very resistant to being moved offshore.

Other events could shake up the outlook for certain jobs in 2007. Such as:

Terrorism. Many experts predict further terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. If that should happen, watch for a hiring boom in the areas affected. A cyberterrorist attack, for instance, would produce lots of jobs for computer-security experts. If the water supply gets poisoned, toxicologists will suddenly be in high demand.

Healthcare reform. New national measures could be years away, but lots of states are passing their own reforms. One result could be plummeting pay for physicians, [insert link] on top of even more onerous paperwork requirements.

Immigration. The growth in America's Hispanic population seems likely to skyrocket, creating a virtually unlimited demand for translators, English-as-a-second-language teachers, and bilingual workers in healthcare and the legal system.

Still determined to become an attorney or chiropractor or small-business owner? Think twice. They rank among America's most overrated careers. But there are alternatives that have similar appeal, without the hassle, costly training, or killer hours. Instead of joining a law firm, for instance, consider work as a mediator–and help resolve disputes before they get to court. It might be your dream to start your own business, but you might still get an entrepreneurial thrill–with far fewer headaches–if you can settle for being No. 2 in somebody else's venture. Being the boss might boost your ego. But a great career needs to enhance your life, too.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Explore new ways to find legislative information on THOMAS

The THOMAS legislative information system from the Library of Congress has posted a beta version of several new features. The direct link to the features being tested is -- or you can click on the Explore new features link on the main page to check it out.
New capabilities being tested include:

  • Search all THOMAS databases for all congresses with one search.
  • Sort search results by document type (bills, committee reports, etc), relevance, or date.
  • Navigate and refine searches with new options on the search results and document display screens.

THOMAS includes a link to offer comments on the new features. Before doing so, be sure to read the helpful section About the New THOMAS (Beta) and--in particular--the helpful FAQs.
(This message was also posted to the SLA DGI blog; please pardon the duplication.)