Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Library passes resolution on porn issue


By Brett Davidsen

The library board of trustees responded Wednesday to a threat from the county to change its Internet porn policy or risk losing millions of dollars in funding. The board met Wednesday morning to take up the issue, which was prompted by an I-Team 10 investigation.

"Let me say at the outset that neither the Monroe County Library System nor any member library condones the viewing of age inappropriate materials by children," said Library System Board President George Wolf.

Last week, an I-Team 10 hidden camera investigation showed you images of people on the Web, viewing graphic sexual material at the library. The library's policy allows adults 17 and older in areas of the Central Branch to view unfiltered Internet.

"I think it's unfortunate that we have pornography in the public library. I didn't know it, it seems to be a surprise to a lot of people," said Jean Gloss of Irondequoit, who came to the public meeting.

Reverend Carley Touchstone was also there. He's the president of the Greater Rochester Association of Evangelicals.

"I was shocked to hear that there was public viewing of pornography here locally and it was taxpayer supported dollars doing it," said Touchstone.

Touchstone said he was leaving pleased by the board's action Wednesday. That action came in the way of a resolution appointing a task force to break down the issue and report back in 60 days. The panel will hire experts and look at, among other things, placement of computer terminals, consideration of rights of adults to access lawful materials, and analysis of filtering software.

"What we have to do is find those kinds of facts. Make certain that there is a basis for the decisions that we make and that's the course we've tried to follow always and the course will continue with," said board Member Bernadette Poole-Tracy.

Hanging over the board's head, a threat from County Executive Maggie Brooks, who, after seeing our investigation, wrote a letter to the library director threatening to halt 6.6.million dollars in funding if the Internet policy isn't changed.

"It's not a simple issue. It’s a complex issue and I don't know how you write a letter like that on a complicated issue without first understanding or having some awareness of what the issues are," said John Lovenheim, president of the Rochester Public Library Board of Trustees.

Brooks responded by showing off stacks of cards and emails supporting her decision.

"What was going on at the library was inappropriate and needed to be addressed immediately and that was the fastest path that I could find to getting a response from the library," Brooks said.

Brooks said she was happy with the result Thursday and called the process fair. However, she warned that she doesn't see any compromise that includes the ability by anyone to access porn at the library.

Committee did not approve pornography

Published: 02.27.2007

On Feb. 20, the Pima County Board of Supervisors voted to accept the recommendations of the Pima County Library Internet Policy Committee. From public reaction to the recommendations, one might think that the committee protected a right to watch pornography on library computers. I served on the committee, and nothing could be further from the truth.

The challenge for the Pima County Public Library was to find a filtering system that denied access to obscenity and child pornography, but not to other speech protected by the First Amendment. If such a filter existed, the committee would have unanimously endorsed its use.
But, and this is the important point, such a filtering system does not exist.

The committee learned a great deal about computer filtering systems. They are not set up for public libraries to deal with access questions, but for private businesses to determine what sites employees may access on company computers. For example, a company, such as Raytheon, may decide that it does not want employees to visit Web sites such as eBay, or YouTube.

It presents a serious constitutional problem for public libraries to adopt such an approach. Filters block material that might be obscenity or child pornography, but also material protected by the First Amendment.

As the head librarian for the city of Phoenix, Toni Garvey, told the committee, "filters block things that are perfectly legal and useful, and you don't know what you've blocked." That's because the decision to filter is made by the filtering software company, not by our librarians. No one knows what sites such software filters.

A second misconception is that people seek unfiltered access to the Internet to see pornography. Adult patrons who choose unfiltered access have many other objectives, such as seeking health information about breast cancer, erectile dysfunction or sexually transmitted diseases. In the end, some software excludes much material that is protected by the First Amendment.

Perhaps one could argue that this is a small price to pay if we prevent people from accessing obscenity and child pornography over public library computers. But the use of public library computers for such purposes is a small, almost nonexistent, problem.

To determine the extent of the problem of pornography in public libraries, the committee surveyed librarians. Twenty-six of 29 branch managers responded that pornography was never a problem or a problem relatively few times. Only three branch managers responded that it was sometimes a problem and none responded that it was often a problem.

By accepting the committee's recommendations, the Board of Supervisors has decided that all computers will be filtered but adults may obtain unfiltered access to the Internet if they agree to abide by the library's code of conduct. And adults would be notified that viewing obscenity or child pornography is illegal and that Arizona law prohibits displaying content that is harmful to minors.

In our civic life, public libraries play a critical role by facilitating citizens' access to material that challenges the mind, engages the imagination and encourages a well-informed citizenry able to exercise its enormous responsibilities in our republican form of government. The board's decision preserves this important function of our public libraries by rejecting unnecessary and unwise censorship.

Write to Robert Glennon at

Senator Matt Murphy of Illinois Set to Ban His Own Blog from Libraries?


Senator Matt Murphy from Illinois, the legislator who has introduced the most restrictive ban on social networking sites in the nation, held a very interesting "live chat" online tonight. It took place at 5:30-6:30 p.m. in the comments on his blog at, which is an interesting use of blogging I haven't seen before. There are 69 comments that constitute the discussion, a back-and-forth between Murphy and the commenters.

In the blog post itself, Murphy sounds fairly reasonable and balanced, saying he filed the bill "to raise awareness of the threat predators on these sites pose to our kids" and "to advance a dialogue on how we can minimize this threat." Neither of these reasons really explains why he chose to introduce a full ban on a class of sites he can't even define (nowhere does the legislation explain what is meant by the term), but I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt as I read his responses anyway.

Unfortunately, I got as far as the 12th comment, in which Detective Bob Riordan, who is working with Murphy on this legislation, notes that Blogger is in the list of "top 10 social networking sites."

What site is Murphy's blog on? Blogger. So apparently, Murphy's current bill would ban his own site - where he hosted the "live chat" to discuss banning social networking sites in libraries - from being accessed in libraries, even by adults.

In addition, I got *really* scared by the following statement from the police detective:

"A possible solution to alleviate the problem would be to issue library users a screen name or a PIN number when they initially apply for a library card and monitor the internet content through the predetermined PIN or screen name."
I hope he was failing to articulate a position of filtering based on access level (child versus adult), but that still doesn't justify singling out social networking sites like this and outright banning all children from using them. In fact, I find Murphy's excuse of starting at such a restrictive point in order to "advance a dialogue" troublesome and even irresponsible of an elected official.

Murphy doesn't respond much in the comments, probably because this was a poor format for a chat and it must have been difficult to keep up with the flow. I look forward to hearing how he more clearly and directly responds to the many concerns expressed in the thread. I am particularly anxious to see how he amends his legislation in light of them, especially given that if his current bill is passed, any similar chats he holds in the future would discriminate against school and library users.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Computers replace books

posted by blake

"Computers replace books" Wor-Wic Community College sophomore Christy Lohnas doesn't have to search through stacks of books anymore to find the resources she needs. When Lohnas has a paper to complete, the library's online database provides the answers.

Wor-Wic's Library, better known as the Media Center, has gone completely electronic, replacing books with desktop computers. The collection of full-text online databases covers a wide range of genres and includes a variety of both print and online sources such as articles from reference books, academic journals, magazines, newspapers, pamphlets and statistical tables.

Wireless Users More Engaged With Cyberspace

posted by birdie

Are you a wireless user? If so, The Pew Internet and American Life Project experts say that you "show deeper engagement with cyberspace" than your wired comrades.

The BBC reports that while 54% of internet users check e-mail "on the typical day," 72% of wireless users check daily. Just under half of wireless users get news online every day, compared to 31% of internet users at large.

Not sure if this is a positive trend, as life doesn't really revolve around cyberspace...or does it?

NYTimes Article on Video Search Engine

Paul Lewis writes "Articles discusses video site which employs speech recognition technology to posted videos to enhance keyword searching capabilities for video content. They Say Blinkx's speech-recognition technology employs neural networks and machine learning using "hidden Markov models," a method of statistical analysis in which the hidden characteristics of a thing are guessed from what is known."

Saturday, February 24, 2007

More crazy legislation - library staff as sexual offender check-in officers

One of the craziest library bills of all time was reintroduced in the Florida Legislature yesterday.

S1804 GENERAL BILL by Posey
Sexual Offenders/Public Libraries; prohibits certain specified sexual offenders whose victim was under age of 18 from entering public library without immediately notifying employee of public library of sex offender's presence & intent to use resources of library; prohibits sex offender from entering library until employee acknowledges presence of offender; provides that offender who violates act commits felony of third degree; provides criminal penalties, etc. Amends 947.1405, 948.30.
EFFECTIVE DATE: 07/01/2007
02/21/07 SENATE Filed

Minow take: I worked in public libraries for ten years. We all want to protect the children, but putting library staff in this role is untenable. As I asked last year, does this mean library staff must then keep an eye on the patron? Is there funding for extra staff to do this? What kind of relationship does this really entail, and does it put the library employee at some risk? Will there be an expectation that the librarian will keep the offender away from the children... and if so, what if she fails?

Giving libraries money for security guards is a much better idea.

Senate Bill sb1804

CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions.
    Florida Senate - 2007                                  SB 1804

By Senator Posey

--more @link--

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Child porn printed at library

JET writes " Reports A high-risk sex offender from Norwell will be charged with possession of child pornography after he was caught printing photos of naked children off the Internet at the Hingham Public Library.

The second to last paragraph was interesting. We do not have pictures of are sex offenders posted in the library where I work at. However, it is a university library. I was wondering how many people here have those pictures of sex offenders displayed where you work at."

posted by Blake

Library porn policy stuns clueless exec

News From Rochester, NY where the County Executive has apparently been asleep for the past decade.

In a strongly worded letter to Paula Smith, director of the county library system, Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks said she was "stunned" and "mortified" that the library would allow people, upon request, to obtain access to pornographic sites. Brooks is threatening to halt about $7.5 million in county funding for the downtown library if it doesn't tighten restrictions. The loss of the money, about 70 percent of the library's budget, would essentially put the library out of business and cripple the library system in Monroe County.

Don't worry, she's doing it, for the children... "As a mother I was horrified to see our community's children put in a position of being exposed to matters beyond their comprehension in some cases, in a place designed for learning," Brooks said.

You Say Scrotum, I Say Hoo-Ha

By Susie Bright, Posted February 21, 2007.

Squeamish school librarians, screaming at a single word they deemed "offensive," have put the screws to an award-winning children's book.

Squeamish school librarians, screaming at a single word they deemed "offensive," have put the screws to a scrumptious award-winning children's book called, of all things, The Higher Power of Lucky.

Have our public-knowledge custodians lost their scruples?

With One Word, Children's Book Sets Off Uproar
by Julie Bosman
The word "scrotum" does not often appear in polite conversation. Or children's literature, for that matter ...
Yet there it is on the first page of The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron, this year's winner of the Newbery Medal, the most prestigious award in children's literature. The book's heroine, a scrappy 10-year-old orphan named Lucky Trimble, hears the word through a hole in a wall when another character says he saw a rattlesnake bite his dog, Roy, on the scrotum.
"'Scrotum' sounded to Lucky like something green that comes up when you have the flu and cough too much," the book continues. "It sounded medical and secret, but also important."
The inclusion of the word has shocked some school librarians, who have pledged to ban the book from elementary schools, and reopened the debate over what constitutes acceptable content in children's books ...
"This book included what I call a Howard-Stern-type shock treatment just to see how far they could push the envelope, but they didn't have the children in mind," Dana Nilsson, a teacher and librarian in Durango, Colo., wrote on LM_Net, a mailing list that reaches more than 16,000 school librarians. "How very sad."...
Andrea Koch, the librarian at French Road Elementary School in Brighton, N.Y., said she anticipated angry calls from parents if she ordered it. "I don't think our teachers, or myself, want to do that vocabulary lesson," she said in an interview ...
Ms. Nilsson, reached at Sunnyside Elementary School in Durango, Colo., said she had heard from dozens of librarians who agreed with her stance. "I don't want to start an issue about censorship," she said. "But you won't find men's genitalia in quality literature."

Let's uncover the anatomy of a literary sex panic, shall we?

A couple dozen prudes got squicked-out, starting with the strangely un-investigated Ms. Nilsson, who is leading the tiny parade of shocked citizens. Reporter Bosman and the Times kicked up the rest of the shocking-pink dust, without diligent reporting.

Ms. Nilsson isn't just a "teacher," she's a leader from the Durango Christian Science Church. When the media reports on issues of language or sexual attitudes and customs, it's incumbent on them to inquire about their informant's religious background and how it affects their decision-making. Who cares what Dana Nilsson thinks about librarianship, if her first priority is her Scriptural views of morality?

This story has pushed the Flying Spaghetti Monster envelope. Ever since Kansas ruled against evolution, and our current President encouraged a world-view that was created in seven days, there is a sense among scientific and empirically-minded Americans that our educational system has lost its marbles. These people, including myself, are the majority, not the Sunday School of the Week Club. We're easily alarmed by any evidence that we've have been swallowed into a Jonah's Whale of a fairy tale that never stops spouting off.

The Times' sample of quotes reveal a group of obvious religious conservatives who betray more about their own ignorance, phobias, and lack of library professionalism than they do about the state of the English vocabulary -- in literature or social life.

Anyone who says that "male genitalia are not in quality literature" needs to have their resumé examined. What's more, this is hardly the first time that the word "scrotum" has appeared in children's books. Think again, Ms. Bosman!

Children's libraries, librarians, and authors are being smeared in stories like these. Children's Lit is a field that includes the greatest writers of all time, speaking on every topic, with every nuance of language. I'm sure E.B. White is turning over in his grave to contemplate this canard, one that Templeton the Rat wouldn't scratch his testes with.

The story ran on the Times front page. At my last view, about 500 people had written into the paper's web site to protest the stink of pre-emptive censorship:

... Most school librarians do not possess a Master of Library Studies -- most are teachers who wound up working in the school library. And doubtless the "librarians" quoted in this article are of a certain political persuasion. Extremely few bona fide (MLS) librarians (e.g. those in public libraries) would ever consider banning this book. -- Posted by Larry McCallum
Librarian Frederick Muller's comment is an example of the selfishness of the opposition: "If I were a third- or fourth-grade teacher, I wouldn't want to have to explain that." If there is one teacher out there who cannot put this book in context for a third-grader because of their own squeamishness over the word "scrotum", then our entire education system has been left behind. What is the right grade for Mr. Muller to teach this book to so he won't be embarrassed of his own human condition? -- Posted by Tom
Back in the 70's when my daughter was in second grade she raised her hand for permission to go to the bathroom. The young first-year teacher asked her if she needed to go "number one or number two."
My daughter replied, "Neither, my vagina itches and I need to scratch it, then wash my hands."
I received a call from the teacher to discuss my daughter's language in class. I, of course, imagined the worst, as I had often heard some pretty foul language in the schoolyard when I dropped her at school in the mornings.
When the teacher told me what my daughter had said I almost laughed out loud; but I very politely asked her what the problem was, as my daughter had answered her question honestly and with the correct anatomical word.
She informed me that a lot of parents didn't want their children knowing words like these, and didn't I have some "cute little family name for it."
I told her, no, we didn't, and that I thought the whole thing ridiculous. She was not happy with me, and apparently spoke to the school principal who called me the next day to apologize. It was silly then and it is silly now.
-- Posted by Constance Ledlow

Most librarians are not tight-lipped prudes, they're courageous front-liners on First Amendment issues. Most families are nonchalant about the daily-observed behavior of their dogs and cats. Parents- who are not in the grips of fundamentalist fever- believe it's helpful for young people to know the correct terms for their own body parts, be they a nose, elbow, vulva, or scrotum.

Yes, some parents are shy. My own mother was too timid to say "vagina" out loud, but she was even more disgusted with the damage done to her as a young girl- "the devil makes you bleed down there because you've sinned," etc.

So she went to the LIBRARY, and got a children's book for me about "how babies are born," one that used perfect English anatomical vocabulary. That was 1968- I wonder if you could find that book at Sunnyside Elementary today.

It's difficult to discuss bodies, sex, and reproduction with anyone, if you fear your own - or believe that an almighty power will strike you down with a word. If Howard Stern is Ms. Nilsson's only exposure to public sexual discussion, she might indeed be distorted. A book like Lucky, that would quietly and kindly inform a young person's point of view, is a nothing less than a Godsend! ...If you'll excuse my French.

The religious right needs to stop breaking everyone's balls -- but the fact that they have, so impressively, in every school system and public forum in the country, has made reasonable thinkers everywhere shake in their boots. Lucky's snakebite is nothing to worry about -- but it is one more venomous nail in the coffin of enlightenment.

REMOTE ACCESS: Distant Libraries of the World

Paul writes "Welcome to Remote Camels and donkeys are used in Kenya to bring literature, education and information to people who otherwise would not have access to them. Children walk more than a mile through the Amazon jungle to reach the only library in the area and farmers in the province of Cajamarca, Peru use their homes to provide space for books and to hold "reading circles" See it all in the fascinating documentary REMOTE ACCESS: Distant Libraries of the World."

posted by Blake

New legislation to make libraries and schools block MySpace - House bill introduced Feb. 16th

In case you thought DOPA was too outrageous to get traction, think again. Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) introduced a DOPA companion bill in the House HR 1120 that already has 12 cosponsors.

Yes, we all want to Delete Online Predators (DOP-A).

But why stop at blocking social networking websites? While we're at it, let's not allow kids use their email accounts at the library. Or adults, since they could be the bad guys. Yeah - no email. And people shouldn't really look up information on the web, either. They could be up to no good. Let's watch what they're looking at, to find out. That would sure cut down on demand for library terminals, a win-win! No more lines.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A double-first at the Bodleian library as US woman takes over

One of Europe's oldest libraries, the Bodleian has gotten its first woman director in its 400+ year existence, according to the Independent Online. Not only their first woman director, but their first non-Brit. Dr. Sarah Thomas has
worked at the Library of Congress in Washington DC as acting head of its Public Service Collections before moving on to oversee the 20 libraries at America's Cornell University. Now, as executive head of the Oxford University Library Services, with its more than 11 million printed volumes in 40 different library sites, her task is to ensure the university's fantastic collection survives the move to the new digital era unscathed.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Charles Simonyi, the next space tourist wants to have a Library in Outer Space

Charles Simonyi and International Space Station

It has been decided, the world’s next space tourist will be the Hungarian-born American software developer and co-founder of Microsoft, Charles Simonyi. On February 18, Simonyi arrived in Moscow for final training before he sets foot aboard the international Space Station (ISS) on April 7.

Simonyi, the software wizard said that he has plans of conducting experiments in orbit as ordered by the European Space Agency. However, the American software developer will also carry out his own scientific program, which will concentrate heavily on a medical experiment that will study radiation effects on human beings.

Charles Simonyi also said that he would love to see a library in outer space. “Everywhere where humans are, I think there should be a library,” said the 58-year-old Simonyi. He also pointed out that in spite of weight limitations, he would pack two indispensable books in his space pack, one of which will be “Faust” by German master Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, and another “The moon is a harsh mistress” by science fiction writer Robert Heinlein.

Regarding why Simonyi would bring along extremely heave and that too hard copies of the books, in a day and age when nearly all things are virtually available, he insisted that having the books would be more practical, especially since permission would be needed to use the computers while remaining inside the International Space Station.

The Hollywood Librarian will be the first full-length film to focus on the work and lives of librarians

The Hollywood Librarian will be the first full-length film to focus on the work and lives of librarians in the entertaining and appealing context of American movies. American film contains hundreds of examples of librarians and libraries on screen -- some positive, some negative, some laughable and some dead wrong. Dozens of interviews of real librarians will be interwoven with movie clips of cinematic librarians and serve as transitions between the themes of censorship, intellectual freedom, children and librarians, pay equity and funding issues, and the value of reading. Join us for the premier of this film!

Get Involved!

The following events are free or require a small fee, but due to the nature of the events, require registration. Registration for these events is available through the online registration form.

The Insider's Guide to Capitol Hill
Monday, June 25, 2007, 8:00 am - 12:00 pm
The PLA Legislative Committee proposes to lead an insider's tour of Capitol Hill and surrounding environs designed to demystify the halls of government and remove some of the intimidation that may keep some ALA and PLA members from attending National Library Legislative Day. The plan includes a guided tour through the House and Senate Office Buildings, the Capitol, and other government buildings in the Capitol complex. This fun and entertaining trip will include a stop at a Congressional Office, a look at a committee room, and stops for refreshments at the cafeterias in the bowels of the Capitol complex. This event is free but has limited availability. (NOTE: This event is now full and is no longer accepting registrations)

Library Day on the Hill
Tuesday, June 26, 2007, 12:00 - 6:00 pm
Join hundreds of fellow attendees for the rare opportunity to show the value of libraries to the Members of Congress. The day will include a Hearing on the Hill on the importance of all types of libraries, and displays around the Halls of Congress informing passers-by about each type of library and the services they provide. Buses will take participants to the Hill in the afternoon to visit your members offices with colleagues. You'll be prepped with informational handouts, perfect for educating Members on the impact libraries have on people's lives, and invite them to join you for a special reception, which will take place that night from 4-6 pm, a perfect time for you to continue to interact with Members of Congress and Hill staffers. This event is free, but has limited availability. To register, use the online registration form.

Librarians Build Communities!
Friday, June 22, 2007, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Tuesday, June 26, 2007, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Participate in one or both of these daylong community service efforts on Friday and Tuesday. Exact jobs to be determined as we work with the Washington, D.C. Public Library and community service groups. All participants will be notified in advance of the various projects and be able to pick the one in which they wish to participate. Your registration fee will be contributed to local library funds. Lunch, transportation and a participation t-shirt are included. Tickets are $10. To register, use the online registration form.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Book banned for correct anatomical term

posted by Blake

A couple of good submissions on the evil scrotum book:

The Higher Power of Lucky- Controversial

sarahmae writes "The New York Times has an article about the controversy over Newbery Medal winner "The Higher Power of Lucky" using the medically correct term of scrotum.
More commentary can be found at which contrary to the NYT's assertion is a blog and not an electronic mailing list.

I see this as part of trend of adults censoring the correct terms for body parts so that they do not have to explain them to children. Exhibit Two: The Hoohah Monologues"

Book banned for correct anatomical term

Fang-Face writes "The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron, is under fire for use of the correct anatomical term "scrotum". Single Word Causes Uproar in Children's Book has the ugly details about how some people, school teachers and librarians included, insult the intelligence of children by assuming some correctly used words don't belong in juvenile fiction."

Friday, February 16, 2007

Craft projects for books

Part of an ongoing project to combine hollowed out books with interesting contents similar to the fluxus movement or Joseph Cornell. The Vice Control book, filled with vices; or the vintage pulp book filled with journals and writing supplies for my daughter.
(Journal in book at right courtesy of Mark Frauenfelder)

JET writes "Here's a Flickr Photoset. Part of an ongoing project to combine hollowed out books with interesting contents similar to the fluxus movement or Joseph Cornell. The Vice Control book, filled with vices; or the vintage pulp book filled with journals and writing supplies for someone's daughter.

I had always thought that the inside text part of the book was the best part. It seems as if others disagree."

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Radical Reference Meeting and US Social Forum Salon

Friday, February 16, 2007
ABC No Rio, NY, NY

Librarians, LIS students, and library support staff are welcome, as are the library curious.

Radical Reference NYC invites you to attend a discussion of the upcoming US Social Forum in Atlanta and if/how librarians should participate. The salon will be preceded by a short business meeting.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Mesa County Library's Exhibit Attracts the Attention of Colbert & ACLU

A display in the Mesa County CO Library commenting on the morality of homosexuality, adultery and divorce has attracted the attention of the American Civil Liberties Union and even Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report."

Under the name "Christians for Healthy Families," Mesa County resident Carol Anderson, 64, created the display, which quotes multiple Bible verses, in response to a pro-gay marriage photographic exhibit displayed in the same place last August called "Love Makes a Family." It advocated for nontraditional families, including gay and mixed race.

The display uses paper bowls to depict marriage, and pink and blue paint to depict males and females. Pink and blue paint mixed in the bowl results in a "beautiful purple," according to the posters. If the pink and blue mixes outside the bowl, "a big mess" results. When pink mixes with pink or blue with blue, "nothing special happens."

The basic story from The Daily Sentinel and the Denver Post, and some clearly less objective points of view from Stop the ACLU and Queerty.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Coffee @ the Library with Café.com

Dr. Roberto Cruz - Alum Rock Library Opens On-Site Coffee Shop

February 3, 2006 -

Visitors entering San José’s Dr. Roberto Cruz – Alum Rock Library today were greeted with a new, yet familiar, scent: the aroma of freshly roasted espresso coffee beans. Local restaurateur Cristina Pinheiro launched Café.com, a specialty coffee and pastry service, as part of San José Public Library’s pilot program responding to customer requests for on-site refreshment. Pinheiro will draw on experience gained as co-owner and operator with her husband of Café do Canto, a popular neighborhood café serving a menu of traditional Portuguese dishes since 2000. Her reasonably priced menu will offer a full range of coffee and espresso drinks along with a selection of pastries, baked fresh each morning. Bagels, biscotti, sodas, fresh fruit, fruit juices and fruit smoothies will also be available.

"Our goal, as we open each new library facility funded by the November 2000 Branch Development Bond, is to ensure that the experience of visiting the library is memorable,” said San José Public Library Director Jane Light. “We are creating public spaces that go beyond beauty and comfort to encourage people to linger and connect with friends and neighbors."

Students from Marina Dantas’ ESL class were among the first to sample what the café has to offer. The class meets at Cruz-Alum Rock Library Tuesday through Friday, from 8:50 a.m. to noon. “Now I can give them the break they need with confidence that they’ll get back to class on time,” said Dantas, “and on the way to and from the classroom they will see all the books, DVDs, and CDs that the library has and hopefully use the library more, reinforcing what they learn in class.”

Café.com will operate during all library open hours.

For more information, contact:
• Lorraine Oback at (408) 808-2176

Rural, Native and Tribal Libraries

Posted in ipod by on the February 6th, 2007

ALA has an advocacy site for Rural, Native and Tribal libraries. This is cool–I didn’t know they had this sort of specialization, but I am enthused to know it has been going on for awhile now.

I knew WebJunction had a special team of people doing work with rural and tribal (First Nation) libraries. Of course George and Chrystie will know more than me on this! (And it gets top billing on the page for Best Practices.)

In particular, the ALA site has a nice PDF tip sheet that gives you A Small but Powerful Guide to Winning Big Support for Your Rural Library. This is great!

I am thinking about advocacy in particular because I just sat in on a call with the Reference Interest Group at OCLC Members Council–where I know Eric and George are, right now, in Quebec City. The group was interested to hear what we’re doing on advocacy, and of course gave us some good guidance on what OCLC should concentrate on, from the members’ perspective! For all of us not in Quebec City, chime in here and I will make sure your voice is heard! Content from: It’s all good

13 Ways of looking at a public library

With indebtedness to the research team and only marginal similarity to Wallace Stevens's work. The list below is a tour de force of what a public library is, was, and is in the process of becoming--for communities across the United States:

  1. Technology center: Provides access to all forms of technology and software that people may not otherwise have access to, making the library relevant in the 21st Century.
  1. A resource for small businesses: Provides all the resources a small business would need – including free private office space, computers with internet access, phone, copier, scanner, and fax machine. It would also provide access to online databases like ABI Inform as well as other business related resources like books about finances, marketing, etc.
  1. Workforce training center: Provides instructor-led classes on entrepreneurship, presentation skills, computer skills, sales generation, financial planning, marketing and other business related topics in order to improve the workplace skills and marketability of community members.
  1. Source of all government forms/applications: Acts as a one-stop-shop for all government forms as well as provides resources and advice about filling out the forms and submitting them.
  1. Resource for job seeking: Provides resources and consultation for resume writing and interview skills to aid community members in their job hunt. In addition, it provides free Internet access for searching online job seeking services like and
  1. Resource for tax preparation: Provides tax forms, access to tax preparation resources and step by step guidance during tax season.
  1. Health Resource center: Acts as a health information resource by providing the most up-to-date health and medical information, flu shots and other vaccinations, health insurance and Medicare information and advice.
  1. Teen center: Provides a safe place for teens to gather outside of school, get help with school work, and have access to the Internet and computer games.
  1. A community center: Serves as a community center that provides free meeting space to hold group meetings, attend/host special events or spend time socializing with friends.
  1. Immigration center: Provides a place where immigrants have access to government forms, books and other information resources in languages other than English. It also provides literacy classes and other English as a second language (ESL) courses to help immigrants adapt to the community.
  1. Music and art center: Acts as a cultural center where community members can come to learn about different types of music and art through books and other resources, but can also create and display their own art and perform their own music.
  1. Research Center: Provides access to information on a wider variety of topics than you can find anywhere else through its online databases, reference materials, and the expertise of librarians.
  1. Social center: Offers a café and lounge-like atmosphere for people to gather and socialize.
Of course, I'm not saying that every public library should be all of these things--but it's a nice consolidated list of many, many of the aspirations we've heard/felt/thought/seen, for public libraries in this country. Looking through this list, it feels like a little bit of paradise. (If only there was a beach or swimming pool--but I am sure that will come in PL 2.0.)

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Baghdad Day to Day: Librarian's Journal

In today's New York Times, the dramatic story of how librarians in Iraq's National Library are dodging bullets and bombs in addition to attempting to restore a measure of normalcy to the library and archives. The library reopened in December for the first time since the US invasion of 2003.

For a month now, library director Saad Eskander's intermittent diary entries have been appearing on the Web site of the British Library as "Iraq Diary", and they detail the daily hurdles of keeping Iraq's central library open, preserving the surviving archives and books and, oh yes, staying alive

Lawsuit challenges filtered Internet access at libraries

Sarah Bradburn admits she’s not that Internet savvy. Still, she thought it strange when she couldn’t find information about teenage smoking on the computer at her public library in Republic, Wash.

“I thought, ‘that’s odd,’ said Bradburn, who in winter 2004 was trying to do research at her hometown library while studying chemical dependency counseling at Eastern Washington University. “I went to the Spokane municipal library and got a ton of information.”

Today, Bradburn is one of four parties to a lawsuit the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington has brought in U.S. District Court in Spokane against the North Central Regional Library District.

According to the ACLU’s complaint, the district will not turn off its Internet filters when asked by adults who wish to access constitutionally protected information on its computers. The district has 28 libraries in Chelan, Douglas, Ferry, Grant and Okanogan counties.

At the heart of the federal case is the right to unfettered access to legal materials on the Internet in rural areas, where broadband connections are generally fewer and farther between than in urban and suburban America.

On the other hand, libraries must have filtering software to be in compliance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), said the library district’s Seattle attorney, Thomas Adams.

If some of the plaintiffs wanted access to filtered information, he said, “Why didn’t they just ask?”

They shouldn’t have to, said ACLU of Washington communication director Doug Honig.

“If an adult wishes to look at the Internet without a library’s filters on, the adult ought to be able to do so without asking a librarian,” Honig said.

Adams said the district’s libraries have a well-thought-out policy for Internet access in compliance with CIPA and reflecting the standards and desires of the communities they serve.

“We feel like we’re doing everything the law requires,” said Adams, who maintains that the filters at the district’s libraries are not at all burdensome.

By the time the ACLU filed suit in November 2006, the district had replaced its old filtering software with a new, less restrictive system, he said.

Bradburn said she can now access the information on teen smoking she couldn’t access in 2004. Adams acknowledges, however, that is not the case for all parties for whom the ACLU filed suit.

The other plaintiffs are Pearl Cherrington, of Twisp, Wash., a professional photographer who was blocked from researching art galleries and health sites, and Charles Heinlen, of Okanogan, Wash., a blogger who was blocked from accessing information about gun use by hunters and other social activities in the Internet, according to court documents.

The fourth plaintiff is the Second Amendment Foundation, a nonprofit organization that advocates the right to possess firearms. The foundation said the library district is blocking access to its Internet magazine, Women & Guns.

“The problem is with the policy,” Honig said, even if the district has a better filtering system.

“There is a wide variety of information on the Internet, and adults should be able to access whatever material they want to see as long as it is legal material,” Honig said.

Why Are EPA Libraries Closing?

by Christopher Moraff
Thursday 01 February 2007

In February 2006, when President Bush unveiled his budget proposal for FY 2007, the EPA Library Network learned that its annual disbursement would be slashed 80 percent from 2006 funding levels - from $2.5 million to just $500,000. A month later, administrators at the EPA's Region 5 facility in Chicago circulated an e-mail announcing it would be the first to close. By October, two other regional libraries were gone. Together, the three facilities had served the entire middle United States.

Since last year, the EPA has drifted from its initial assertion that the move is purely budgetary to embrace the closings as a technological achievement. "EPA's library modernization is providing better access to a broader audience," says EPA spokesperson Jessica Emond. "When libraries go digital, everyone benefits."

Not everyone sees it that way. Opponents of the plan have presented a laundry list of concerns ranging from questions about the EPA's motive to critiques of its method. Foremost among the critics are employees of the agency itself. Shortly after the initiative was proposed, the presidents of 17 union locals - representing over 10,000 EPA scientists, researchers and support personnel - lodged a formal protest against the closings.

In a letter to Sens. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) and Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), members of the American Federation of Government Employees, the National Treasury Employees Union, the National Association of Government Employees, and the Engineers and Scientists of California urged Congress to reverse the budget cuts and mandate that the EPA keep its libraries open. They have been joined by a growing coalition of lawmakers, advocacy groups and citizens.

"The EPA libraries are essential to the agency's ability to carry out its mission to protect human health and the environment," says Michael Halpern, outreach coordinator for the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), one of several groups actively engaged in the debate.

Founded in 1971, the EPA Library Network consisted of 27 facilities across the country at its height, serving 10 regional agency offices, two research centers and 12 EPA laboratories, as well as thousands of ordinary citizens. The libraries house information on everything from basic sciences, such as biology and chemistry, to local records on hazardous waste, drinking water, pollution prevention and toxic substances.

According to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), in 2005 the library network handled more than 134,000 research requests from its own scientific and enforcement staff and housed an estimated 50,000 "unique" documents that are available nowhere else. "Access to information is one of the best tools we have for protecting the environment," says Jeff Ruch, PEER's executive director. "The dismantlement of EPA's Library Network has been directed from above without any assessment of the information needs of the agency."

Emond says that the EPA has implemented a stringent agenda to ensure that no essential material gets lost and has followed the American Library Association's (ALA) guidance by developing criteria for reviewing its library collection.

ALA President Leslie Burger takes issue with that assertion. "The [ALA's] loose collection of resources is a good starting point for thinking about collection development policies but does not constitute ALA guidance and criteria," said Burger, in a recent statement to the National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology.

UCS's Halpern also takes issue with the linking of digitization and closings. "The EPA's plan is backwards," says Halpern. "A thoughtful and deliberate digitization of all of the information in a library's collection should occur before the library's physical location is closed."

Still others question the value of digitization itself, arguing that access is only part of the equation.

"A simple search engine just isn't enough," said Burger. "With the loss of the brick-and-mortar facilities comes the loss of the most important asset in the library: the librarian. After all, what good is information if you can't find it?"

Further, the EPA itself has admitted that it may not have the authority to digitize certain copyrighted material. Add to that the fact that many EPA compendiums are hundreds of pages in length and contain complex maps and graphics - which require special viewing formats - and it's easy to see why digitization of the entire catalogue is virtually impossible.

A newly invigorated Democratic Congressional majority has taken up the cause. In a November 30 letter to EPA administrator Stephen Johnson, Reps. John Dingell (D-Mich.), Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.), Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and James L. Oberstar (D-Minn.) urged the agency to stop closing libraries until Congress has had the chance to review the plan. The lawmakers had previously asked the Government Accountability Office to look into the closings.

"Congress ... has approved neither the President's 2007 budget request nor the library closure," they wrote. "We request that you maintain the status quo of the libraries and their material while this issue is under investigation." As In These Times went to press, the outcry seemed to be having some effect.

On January 12, a Washington D.C.-based blog run by Cox Newspapers reported that the EPA had halted the closings. But Emond says this was a mischaracterization since the agency never planned to close any more libraries.

Nevertheless, she says, "We have rescheduled our recycling schedule in order to take time to address some of the Congressional questions."

So far, the EPA says it has digitized about half of its collection, but admits it will take at least another two years to finish the project.

Halpern worries the damage may already be done. "Even if Congress acts now, it's pretty difficult to put a library back together once the bookshelves and the microfilm readers have been sold and scientific journals have been recycled," he says.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Oregon's libraries at risk

Anonymous Patron " sends this NPR Morning Edition about the impending closure of all 15 libraries in Jackson County, OR. The story broke a couple weeks ago, but more information has come out. Apparently, several areas around the country are suffering similarly, due to the ending of a federal subsidy related to logging. Many counties that have recieved this subsidy in the past couple decades have gotten used to low taxes, as the subsidy paid for a lot of essential public services. Now that the subsidy is gone, there's no financial infrastructure in place to support police and public health care services, fire services and libraries, to name a few."

Banning books from Kelso library just got harder

Planning on trying to get a book you consider tasteless banned from the Kelso Public Library?

It just officially got tougher --- not that it's ever been easy to convince librarians to stifle the free-flow of ideas.

Now, if patrons want certain books, magazines or videos removed from the collection, library staff members can hand them a copy of the library materials selection policy, which the City Council approved this month. The library didn't have a written policy until now, the library director said.

The policy contains a questionnaire asking patrons which specific pages or sections of the material they're concerned about. It also asks whether the patron has read, seen or heard the entire content of the material in question.

"It's saying if there's an objection, it has to be based on the fact that you've read it," said Library Director Geraldine de Rooy. "It prevents people from just saying carte blanche, 'Please remove everything on XYZ.' That's censorship."

School experiments with electronic books

From next week, a class of 27 pupils at the Bonnefanten College in Maastricht will use an electronic book, or Iliad, in their Dutch and history classes. It's the country's first experiment in replacing traditional books with the A5 screens.

Publisher ThiemeMeulenhoff has adapted its text books for the new system and expects more schools to follow suit from September.

10 Ways to Save Money on Books

I used to spend thousands of dollars a year on books, most of which I never read. Recently I’ve begun to trim my book spending. I spent nearly $3000 on books in 2003, but that number dropped to $700 last year. How did I do it? Through self-discipline and some commonsense tricks.

Avoid new releases
New releases sell at a premium. Sometimes you can get them cheap at Costco or Amazon. It’s best to avoid them completely. Put them on hold at the library. If you’re tempted to buy a newly-released book, ask yourself: “Why do I need to own this now? Can I wait?”

Read reviews
Reviews help separate the wheat from the chaff. It’s a terrible feeling to spend $25 on a book only to discover it’s awful. Amazon is an excellent source for reader opinion. I also like Metacritic and The New Yorker. Find a source that you trust, and rely upon it to screen books.

Find the classics online
Most of the literary canon is in the Public Domain. There are thousands of freely-available texts for download at Project Gutenberg. One excellent way to read the classics is through Daily Lit, a service that gives you bite-sized chunks of books in your inbox.

Search for bargains
I look to buy books cheap at garage sales, thrift stores, and library book sales. If you’re patient and have a general idea of what you want, you can build a fantastic library for cheap. Don’t forget: if you find a nice stash at a garage sale, you can negotiate for a better price.

Make Amazon your all-purpose book tool
Though I buy some books from Amazon, I mainly use the site as a reference. I’m able to check reviews, prices, and related works. For many books, I can preview the first few pages. I can check release dates. My top use for Amazon is to compile a “reading list”. Whenever I spot a book that might be interesting, I add it to my Amazon list. About once a month, I go through this list and put the books on hold at the library…

Frequent your public library
This is the cornerstone to my system. The true revolution came when I discovered my library’s web site. Referencing my Amazon wish list, I place books on hold. When they’re ready, I stop after work to pick up a batch. I keep those books out for what seems like forever. My library system lets me renew for nearly six months! I believe that every smart, frugal person should make active use of her public libary.

Explore used book stores
Not all used booksellers are created equal. Scour your neighborhood to find the good ones. Some are stocked with romance novels and children’s books. That’s fine for some people, but I like a used bookstore with a diverse inventory. My wife has introduced me to the joys of the Edward R. Hamilton catalog. We just placed an order yesterday. Had we purchased these same books on Amazon, we would have spent over more than twice as much. (If you’re willing to buy used through Amazon, you can find many common books for only a buck or two.)

Harness the power of the internet
There are many book-related resources online. Over the past few weeks, readers have e-mailed to share resources such as:

  • TitleTrader lets you swap books, DVDs, and CDs. The site offers a points-based system for requests.
  • PaperBackSwap allows members to swap books my mail. For each book you send (paying postage), you earn credit to receive a book.
  • Bookins is similar to the first two services, except that it reverses the payment structure. You only pay to receive books. Shipping books is free. Why is this a big deal? If you have too many books and want to purge your library, you can post your list and then gradually get rid of your overstock at no cost.
  • BookSwim promises to be like Netflix for books. It’s nearing launch.

Audible is an expensive but useful option, especially if you enjoy listening to books on your iPod (as I do).

Buy only what you intend to read
This may seem obvious, but it’s taken me a long time to learn. I tend to want to own any book of interest. This is a huge money sink if the books remain unread. One approach is to only buy new books after you’ve read those last purchased. I’m not to this point yet, but I’m much better than I used to be.

Pass books around to family and friends. Ask to borrow theirs. Create an informal book exchange among your social network. This is an excellent way to stretch the value of a dollar.

'Books must go totally green'

Oxford author Philip Pullman is among 200 writers worldwide to sign a petition demanding that books be published on 100 per cent recycled paper. Mr Pullman, who lives in Cumnor, said: "This is one of the many ways people are becoming conscious of the way we are messing up the Earth. "I hope that in some small way I can add my voice to helping the situation."

Supreme Court denies funds to bookstore contesting Customs censorship; ruling "a blow to free expression", says PEN Canada

CA Supreme Court denies funds to bookstore contesting Customs censorship

Posted by Blake

If you've been following along the troubles at Little Sisters then This Press Release will be of interest. "A ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada last week has effectively put an end to Little Sisters bookstore's two-decade long fight for its free expression rights."

The following is a 25 January 2007 PEN Canada press release:

Supreme Court of Canada's ruling against Little Sisters bookstore a blow to free expression, PEN Canada says

Toronto, 25 January 2007 - A ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada last week has effectively put an end to Little Sisters bookstore's two-decade long fight for its free expression rights.

On 19 January, in a majority decision the Court upheld a ruling from the British Columbia Court of Appeals denying advance funding for a suit by the bookstore against Canada Customs. The ruling said the case should not receive advance funding because it does not meet the test of having issues that relate not just to the litigant but to the general public.

The decision came after the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper cancelled a C$2.8-million-a-year (approx. US$2.368 million) Court Challenges Program in September 2006. The Trudeau-era program was intended to protect the constitutional rights of minority and other marginalized groups by helping to finance their court battles. Had the ruling been in favour of Little Sisters, it could have set a precedent in which Ottawa would have to cover legal costs for ordinary people who raise challenges under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

"We are very disappointed with the Supreme Court's decision on two levels," said PEN Canada National Affairs Chair Christopher Waddell. "First, PEN Canada believes censoring and restricting freedom of expression in a free and democratic country is always a matter of compelling national interest, and is disappointed that the Supreme Court does not seem to share that view."

"It is particularly true when it is enforced by those such as Customs officers who have no knowledge, skills and training to play the role of censors. The court itself acknowledged that when it said in a previous decision in this case that Canada Customs systematically acted inappropriately in confiscating material entering the country."

"Second," Waddell added, "it is disappointing that the Court does not acknowledge that individuals and small enterprises need support to challenge the arbitrary power of the state when it is employed against them. It is an essential check on the abuse of power by authorities and one that PEN Canada believes should be supported by public funds."

The Vancouver-based Little Sisters caters to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender customers, selling sex toys, erotica, fiction and other material. Many of the books in stock are sex manuals, which have been frequent targets of Canada Customs censors.

The store says that, unless hundreds of thousands of dollars can be raised to continue the legal battle - it has already spent over a half-million - it has no other choice but to let Customs officials decide which titles appear on its shelves.

About PEN Canada

PEN Canada is a centre of International PEN that campaigns on behalf of writers around the world persecuted for the expression of their thoughts. In Canada, it supports the right to free expression as enshrined in Section 2(b) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

33 Reasons Why Libraries and Librarians are Still Extremely Important

by: Will Sherman

Many predict that the digital age will wipe public bookshelves clean, and permanently end the centuries-old era of libraries. Technology’s baffling prowess and progress even has one librarian predicting the institution’s demise.

He could be right.

But if he is, then the loss will be irreplaceable. As libraries’ relevance comes into question, they face an existential crisis at a time they are perhaps needed the most. Despite their perceived obsoleteness in the digital age both libraries – and librarians – are irreplaceable for many reasons. 33, in fact. We've listed them here:

1. Not everything is available on the internet
The amazing amount of useful information on the web has, for some, engendered the false assumption everything can be found online. It’s simply not true.

Google Book Search recognizes this. That’s why they’re taking on the monolith task of digitizing millions of books from the World’s largest libraries. But even if Google does successfully digitize the sum of human knowledge, it is unlikely that the sum of contemporary authors and publishers will not allow their works to be freely accessible over the internet. It is already prohibited by law to make copyrighted books fully accessible through Google Book Search; only snippets. And it’ll be a long time before that must-read New York Times bestseller gets put up for free on the internet: current copyright law protects works for 70 years beyond the death of the author.

Even some public domain works are off limits. If an out-of-copyright copy includes prefaces, introductions, or appendices that are still in copyright, the whole work falls under copyrighted status.

2. Digital libraries are not the internet
A fundamental understanding of what the internet is – and what it isn’t – can help more clearly define what a library is, and why libraries are still extremely important.

The Elmer E. Rasmuson Library at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks clearly spells out the difference between “Online Collections” and the “Internet or Web Sources”. The internet, this site explains, is a mass of largely unpublished materials produced by organizations, businesses, individuals, experimental projects, entrepreneurial webmasters, etc.

“Online Collections”, however, are different. They are typically provided by libraries and include materials that have been published via rigorous editorial processes. Works selected for inclusion in a library catalogue undergo vetting from qualified staff. Types of materials include books, journals, documents, newspapers, magazines and reports which are digitized, stored and indexed through a limited-access database.

While one might use the internet or a search engine to find these databases, deeper access to them requires registration. You are still online, but you are no longer on the internet. You are in a library.

3. The internet isn’t free
While Project Gutenberg boasts 20,000 free, downloadable eBooks on its homepage, we are promptly reminded that these books are only accessible because they are no longer in copyright.

And books are just the tip of the iceberg. Numerous academic research papers, journals and other important materials are virtually inaccessible to someone seeking to pull them off the web for free. Rather, access is restricted to expensive subscription accounts, which are typically paid for by libraries. Visiting the library in person, or logging in to the library through your member account, is therefore the only way to affordably access necessary archived resources.

4. The internet complements libraries, but it doesn’t replace them
To guide people in finding information, the Long Island University provides a helpful explanation of what types of resources can be accessed through the library. These include news, journals, books and other resources.

Interestingly, the World Wide web is among these resources as yet another approach to finding information. But it’s not a replacement. The page goes on to differentiate and explain the advantages of libraries over the internet for research. It does cite the benefits of the internet, including “sampling public opinion”, gathering “quick facts” and “a wide range of ideas”. Overall, the point is well made: libraries are completely different institutions from the web. In this light, to talk about one replacing the other begins to seem absurd.

5. School Libraries and Librarians Improve Student Test Scores
A 2005 study of the Illinois School Libraries shows that students who frequently visit well-stocked and well-staffed school libraries end up with higher ACT scores and perform better on reading and writing exams.

Interestingly, the study points out that access digital technology plays a strong role in test results, noting that “high schools with computers that connect to library catalogs and databases average 6.2% improvement on ACT scores”.

View the press release here.

6. Digitization Doesn’t Mean Destruction
The eagerness with which libraries have jumped into partnership with Google Book Search is not the work of a lemming mentality. Libraries including Oxford University, University of Michigan, Harvard, the Complutense University in Madrid, the New York Public Library, the University of Texas, the University of California and many others have teamed up with the Google’s project, not eschewed it.

In return for opening up their stacks, these libraries will have all their books electronically available for their own members. While it can be expected that fully out-of-copyright books will, on many occasions, be made fully accessible to the public, copyrighted materials – including subscription journals – will still be kept under restricted access.

The reason for this is in part because Google Book Search’s indemnity clauses don’t reach that far; Google Book Search won’t shield libraries from any liability that they might incur for overstepping the bounds of copyright. And there’s a real cause for caution – Google Book Search is currently facing two major lawsuits from authors and publishers.

7. In fact, digitization means survival
Daniel Greenstein of the University of California cites a very practical reason for digitizing books: in electronic form, books aren’t vulnerable to natural disasters or pulverization that comes with age. He even cites the libraries destroyed by Hurricane Katrina as an important reminder of the vulnerability of “cultural memory”.

8. Digitization is going to take a while. A long while.
While book search has developed the air of an unstoppable movement rapidly breaking down library walls and exposing untouched treasure troves, it is breathtakingly far from reaching its goal. With an estimated 100 million books in print since the invention of movable type , the process has hardly made headway. Digitizing is expensive and complicated, and so far Google’s million books digitized is just a drop in the bucket. “The majority of Information”, said Jens Redmer, Google Book Search’s European director, “lies outside the internet”.

But how long will it take to index the world’s knowledge? In 2002, Larry Page boasted that Google could digitize approximately seven million books in six years. Since 2004 Google Book Search has been plugging along through a series of fits and starts. By 2007, they have managed to index a million books. So, at the rate of approximately half a million books per year, digitizing 100 million books would take about…200 years. Assuming Google could shake off the legal and logistical challenges and crank out 7 million books every 6 years, the earliest possible completion date would still be 2092.

In the meantime, a larger user base will rely on local libraries, or online collections of what have been digitized. Dumping physical libraries before digitization is complete would leave library patrons in the lurch.

9. Libraries aren’t just books
Technology is integrating itself into the library system, not bulldozing it. Pushing this trend to its logical extreme (although it’s likely not to happen), we could eventually see libraries’ entire stacks relegated to databases, and have books only accessible digitally. So where does that leave librarians? Are they being overtaken by technology, the timeless enemy of labor?

Technology is integrating itself into the library system, not bulldozing it. Pushing this trend to its logical extreme (although it’s likely not go this far), we could eventually see libraries’ entire stacks relegated to databases, and only be able to access books digitally.

So where does that leave librarians? Are they being overtaken by technology, the timeless enemy of labor?

Not this time. In fact, technology is revealing that the real work of librarians is not just placing books on bookshelves. Rather, their work involves guiding and educating visitors on how to find information, regardless of whether it is in book or digital form. Technology provides better access to information, but it is a more complex tool, often requiring specialized know-how. This is a librarian’s specialty, as they dedicate themselves to learning the most advanced techniques to help visitors access information effectively. It’s in their job description.

10. Mobile devices aren’t the end of books, or libraries
Predictions of the End of the Book are a predictable response to digitization and other technologies, and the crystal ball of some in the pro-paper crowd seems to also reveal a concomitant crumbling of civilization.

One of the latest dark threats to paper (and society) seems to be Google’s plan to make e-books downloadable to mobile devices. The iPod version of the novel is here. Google has already scanned a million books. Japanese train commuters are reading entire bestsellers on their cell phones. The end is near.

But if the mobile e-book is a hit and a lasting phenomenon, it’s unlikely that they will be an all-consuming transition for readers. Radio lives on despite TV, film is still in high demand despite video, people still talk on the telephone despite email. People who like paper books will continue to read paper books…even if mobile downloads prompt the majority of publishers to release e-books instead of paper. After all, an immense backlog of printed books will still be accessible to readers.

Where do libraries fit in supposing that mobile e-books actually do completely overtake printed books, the presence of the digital library will continue to be extremely important, whether it’s paper or electronically based.

11. The hype might really just be hype
Paper books aren’t exactly doomed, even years after the invention of the e-book. In fact, by contrasting the merits of the e-book to those of the paper book, one could argue that paper books are actually a better product.

It would be premature to write off libraries and their freely accessible books amidst predictions of e-books’ impending prominence. Society could lose valuable access to a trusted medium – even if e-books do take off.

12. Library attendance isn’t falling – it’s just more virtual now
With approximately 50,000 visitors a year, attendance at the American History Archives at Wisconsin Historical Society has dropped 40% since 1987. This statistic, when set alone, may prove sufficient for anybody casually predicting the Collapse of the Library. But it is only half the story. The archives have also been digitized and placed online. Every year the library receives 85,000 unique online visitors. The number of online schools offering online degrees is constantly on the rise as well. Many of these schools are improving their virtual libraries by the day.

13. Like businesses, digital libraries still need human staffing
Even online businesses rely on quality support for better sales and customer satisfaction. The availability of email, phone and live chat services improve the experience of people seeking goods and services. The same goes for people seeking information.

In return for paying taxes or library fees packaged with University tuition, library members should expect reliable “customer support” in exchange for their dues.

Librarians are indeed very important in servicing their visitors. And still today there is no equivalent replacement to the library, which provides access to mountains of content that is not available through search engines or even Google Books Search, which only provides snippets and links to retailers where books can be bought.

14. We just can’t count on physical libraries disappearing
Physical libraries won’t ever go away. Even as Google Book Search picks up the pace and libraries finance their own digitization projects, the future of physical library space continues to be necessary.

This is because many libraries aren’t digitizing yet and many may never digitize. There’s a good reason: it’s expensive. At a low estimate of $10 per book (and probably much more for older, more delicate works), digitizing an entire library of, say, more than 10,000 books – well, it adds up. And for many library users, they still depend on this traditional, effective approach to pinpointing information with onsite computers or librarians available to assist them.

15. Google Book Search “don’t work”
If a Google-style indexing of all the world’s books were to mirror the company’s well-known search service, one might have that much more fodder for the argument against keeping libraries around. After all, Google has great technology for searching the web, right? Couldn’t we just bypass libraries?

But experts point out that Google Book Search is far off from such user-friendliness as experienced with the company’s internet search service. The lofty ideals of information-for-everybody are hindered not only by copyright lawsuits, but by the Google’s own desire to be top dog. They’re not about to hand over their index to other competitors, like Microsoft, Yahoo!, Amazon and other non-partnered digitizing projects. The user loses out by not being able to access everything through his or her preferred book search service.

By not giving up digital archives to their competitors, companies that take this competitive, corporate approach to digitization risk veering off the map, away from the philosophy of the public library. In the meantime, libraries should remain in tact and available to the general public.

16. Physical libraries can adapt to cultural change
The U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS) is just one among countless groups that study and debate the evolving role of the physical library in the digital age. In a 2006 symposium the NCLIS created a report that calls for a refining of what physical library space is. Less like “warehouses”, was one of the conclusions, and more like “intellectual crossroads for working, learning, teaching, and new types of programs.”

17. Physical libraries are adapting to cultural change
Anyone subscribing to the theories of 20th century thinker Marshal McLuhan might say that along with changed life patterns brought on by electronic technology, knowledge that was once encased in books and compartmentalized by subject area is now being liberally disseminated in an explosion of democracy, rendering obsolete the austerity of the lonely, echoing corridors of the Library. Interestingly McLuhan, who died in 1980, once even said: “the future of the book is the blurb”.

Indeed, this cultural change predates widespread use of the internet, as well as Google Book Search. For decades society has been seeking a more holistic understanding of the world, and increased access to information. The search for new methods of organizing educational structures (including libraries) has long been active. And while libraries might not be on many peoples’ “Top Ten Cutting Edge List”, they have been adapting.

Washington State University director of libraries Virginia Steel, for example, is a proponent of maximizing the social and interactive nature of physical library space. Group study, art exhibits, food and coffee – talking, not whispering; this is the new library. It’s not obsolete, it’s just changing.

18. Eliminating libraries would cut short an important process of cultural evolution
The library that we are most familiar with today – a public or academic institution that lends out books for free – is a product of the democratization of knowledge. In the old days, books weren’t always so affordable, and private libraries, or book clubs, were a privilege of the rich. This started changing during the 1800’s, with more public libraries popping up and the invention of the Dewey Decimal Classification system to standardize the catalogues and indexes.

Libraries began blossoming under the watch of President Franklin Roosevelt, in part as a tool to differentiate the United States from book-burning Nazis. This increased interest in building a more perfect, liberal society culminated in 1956 with the Library Services Act, which introduced federal funding for the first time. Today there are tens of thousands public libraries in the United States. (More info on the history of libraries here).

19. The internet isn’t DIY
It could be said that the internet has endowed society with a giddy sense of independence. Access to all the world’s information – and free search engines to browse it with – calls into question the need for a librarians, moderators or other such middlemen; the web, it might seem, is a do-it-yourself medium.

But a quick look at the driving forces of today’s internet shows us something different. The internet is intensely social and interactive, and has created communities of users that are often remarkably as tight-knit as they are large. The internet is serving as a tool for humans to fulfill their natural community building instincts – sharing, interacting and doing business.

The online economy is driven in large part by the web 2.0 philosophy of human interaction, peer review and the democratization of knowledge and analysis. Search engines rank web pages based on their popularity, social networking platforms pull in millions of visitors daily and the internet’s most popular encyclopedia is written by the same people who read it.

Like Wikipedia, the most popular online meeting grounds are often the best moderated. Since riff-raff and spammers are an inevitable part of any society (whether physical or virtual), quality control helps contribute to the best online experiences. Good citizenship among online communities (intelligently contributing to the discussion, not spamming) is a surefire way to bolster your reputation as a helpful member of the group. In order to be fostered, this type of environment must be moderated.

Interestingly, the role of the moderator very much parallels the role of the librarian: to safeguard an environment in which knowledge can be accessed and ideas can be shared.

The notion that libraries are a thing of the past and that humankind has sprouted wings and flown into a new era of self-guided Truth is nothing short of farcical. Unfortunately, it’s this same notion that could lead to the dismemberment of libraries as stuffy and out-of-date. In reality, the quality of the web depends on guidance from the academic, library model. While moderators do have brush to clear in the new and savage cyber-scape, librarians have trail blazed significant parts of the journey.

20. Wisdom of crowds is untrustworthy, because of the tipping point
The high visibility of certain viewpoints, analysis and even facts found online through social networking sites and wikis is engineered – ideally – to be the result of objective group consensus. Google’s algorithm also hinges on this collective principle: rather than an in-house “expert” arbitrarily deciding what resource is the most authoritative, let the web decide. Sites with higher link popularity tend to rank higher in the search engines. The algorithm is based on the principle that group consensus reveals a better, more accurate analysis of reality than a single expert ever could. Writer James Surowiecki calls this phenomenon “the wisdom of crowds.”

In a vacuum, crowds probably are very wise. But all too often we see the caveat to James Surowiecki’s crowd wisdom in Malcom Gladwell’s “tipping point”, which, in this context, explains that groups are easily influenced by their vanguard – those who are the first to do something and who automatically have extra influence, even if what they are doing is not necessarily the best idea.

The highly social nature of the web therefore makes it highly susceptible to, for example, sensationalized, low-quality information with the sole merit of being popular. Libraries, in contrast, provide quality control in the form of a stopgap. Only information that is carefully vetted is allowed in. Libraries are likely to stay separate from the internet, even if they can be found online. Therefore, it is extremely important that libraries remain alive and well, as a counterpoint to the fragile populism of the web.

21. Librarians are the irreplaceable counterparts to web moderators
Individuals who voluntarily devote their time to moderating online forums and wikis are playing a similar role to librarians who oversee the stacks – and those who visit the stacks.

The chief difference between librarians and moderators is that while the former guides users through a collection of highly authoritative, published works, the moderator is responsible for taking the helm as consensus is created. While the roles are distinct, each is evolving along with the fast paced growth of the internet and the evolving nature of libraries. Both moderators and librarians will have a lot to learn from each other, so it is important that they both stick around.

22. Unlike moderators, librarians must straddle the line between libraries and the internet
Admittedly, libraries are no longer both the beginning and ending point of all scholarly research. The internet is effectively pulling students away from the stacks and revealing a wealth of information, especially to one who is equipped with the tools to find it. Indeed, the dream of cutting out the middleman is possible to attain. But at what price?

Media literacy, although an extremely important asset for scholars and researchers, is far from universal. Who is going to teach media literacy? Many argue that librarians are the best fit to educate people about the web.

After all, web moderators are concerned primarily with the environment which they oversee and less so with teaching web skills to strangers. Teachers and professors are busy with their subjects and specializations. Librarians, therefore, must be the ones who cross over into the internet to make information more easily accessible. Instead of eliminating the need for librarians, technology is reinforcing their validity.

23. The internet is a mess
As one pro-librarian website puts it, “The internet in very few ways resembles a library. A library provides a clear, standardized set of easily retrievable resources".

Despite the slightly combative nature of this one-liner, its premise is essentially correct. Despite improvements in search technology and the creation of amazingly comprehensive sites like Wikipedia, the internet is still, in many ways, a free-for-all. Flooded with sites from all sorts of sources that inexplicably languish about or jockey for top positions in the rankings, the web is like an overpopulated Wild West. Many have taken confronted this chaos with grass-roots social networking sites or large, complex and highly successful efforts to organized information (Google, Wikipedia, et al). But despite these efforts, a morass of questionable pages still tends to be served up in many search results, and the credibility of each source accessed must inherently come into question.

Not that that’s a bad thing. The oceans of information, uncertainty and spontaneity on the web can provide an exciting, enriching experience. But if you need to limit your search to logically indexed resources that have been published and then vetted by a professional staff, then the library is still your best bet.

24. The internet is subject to manipulation
As long as the bright minds behind Google are coming up with a better search algorithm, the bright minds of search engine optimizers will continue to crack it. This could involve conforming to Google’s quality standards or, in many cases, skirting around them. It is important for the user to keep in mind the limitations of Google. In many cases the search giant succeeds in serving up good information. But in many cases it still falls short.

In contrast, it is extremely hard to enter into libraries’ indexes. Books, journals and other resources must be nothing less than high caliber, published material. If they’re not, they simply don’t get in.

Furthermore, the economic incentive to manipulate library collections is much less fierce than on the internet. It is estimated that only 4% of book titles are being monetized.

Meanwhile, Google alone is experiencing incredible earnings through online advertising, not to mention everyone else positioning for a piece of the Internet pie.

But libraries simply aren’t facing this kind of pressure. Their way of providing information, therefore, will inherently be less influenced by corporate interests.

25. Libraries’ collections employ a well-formulated system of citation
Books and journals found in libraries will have been published under rigorous guidelines of citation and accuracy and are thereby allowed into libraries’ collections.

These standards are simply not imposed on websites. They can show up in search results whether or not they provide citation. With enough research, the accuracy of web resources often can be determined. But it’s very time consuming. Libraries make research much more efficient.

26. It can be hard to isolate concise information on the internet
Certain subject areas like medical conditions or financial advice are very well mapped on the web. Quality sites for more marginal subject areas, however, are less easy to find through web search. One would have to know which site to go to, and Google isn’t necessarily going to serve you exactly what you are looking for.

Wikipedia, which ranks well for a wide variety of specialized subject areas, is improving web concision. But Wikepedia is just one site, that anyone can edit, and its veracity is not guaranteed. Libraries retain a much more comprehensive and concisely indexed collection off research materials.

27. Libraries can preserve the book experience
Consuming 900 pages on the intellectual history of Russia is an experience unique to the book. In general, the book provides a focused, yet comprehensive study that summarizes years of research by an author – or team of authors – who have devoted their academic to a particular subject area.

Through Google Book Search, the internet can be a tool to find where to buy a book. Normal search results also reveal a variety of book resellers, academic courses or upcoming web projects.

But even when the internet does provide actual content (as in a search for the history of Russia) the information is often snack-sized or the overall experience cursory – a sort of quick-reference browsing. Knowledge can be found, but the experience of delving into a book for hundreds of pages just doesn’t happen online. The preservation of stacks, therefore, will help preserve access to this approach to learning and the more traditional form of scholarship can continue alongside the new.

28. Libraries are stable while the web is transient
In an effort to improve their service and shake out the spammers, search engines are constantly updating their algorithms. Often, however, collateral damage will knock out innocent sites including, perhaps, authoritative resources.

In addition, websites commonly go offline or their addresses change. Other sites that point to these resources (which were once good) could easily and unwittingly house a number of “broken links”. These sites can remain unedited for years.

Libraries, on the other hand, have a well-accounted-for stock of available resources and a standard indexing system that will deliver stable, reliable results consistently.

29. Libraries can be surprisingly helpful for news collections and archives
In many ways, libraries fall short of the internet when it comes to aggregating news content. Online TV, radio and newspaper sources – not to mention an abundance of blogs referencing and commenting on daily events around the world – can often satiate anyone from the casual headline browser to the news junkie.

Meanwhile, libraries continue to subscribe and stock a certain list of newspapers, and archive the back issues. This effort may seem humble alongside the lengthy lists of online news aggregators and instantaneous access to articles published within the minute.

Nevertheless, a library’s news cataloguing can provide a number of advantages. For starters, many publications continue to exist offline. For someone seeking a specific article by a specific journalist, a library could yield better results – even if the publication had to be tracked down through inter-library loan.

Libraries often provide freely accessible issues of major periodicals that would otherwise require online subscription, like many sections of the New York Times

In addition, archives often disappear offline, or become increasingly expensive online. (Try Google’s news archive search). This can leave libraries with the only accessible copies.

30. Not everyone has access to the internet
In less developed nations or even poorer parts of the United States, library access is often the only clear-cut way for an individual to conduct serious research. There are at least two major reasons that the internet may not provide even an illusory alternative to libraries.

Firstly, online access may be much more difficult to attain than library access. A public library may have but one computer console, while other internet access points may charge someone who simply doesn’t have the means to pay.

Secondly, even if internet access is obtained, the lack of technological education in poorer areas of the world will render the technology much less useful than it would be for the person who has more experience navigating the web.

31. Not everyone can afford books
Outside of developed nations, books are more rare and often more expensive than their first-world counterparts. Compounding the problem is an incredibly low minimum wage making the real cost of books astronomical. The public library, wherever it exists, therefore becomes much more crucial to democratizing information.

Since the United States tends to be a trend leader, especially technologically, it must underscore the importance of libraries even as technology moves forward. Touting a culture of BlackBerry devices over books may jeopardize the existence of traditional libraries, leaving poor people without books or BlackBerrys.

32. Libraries are a stopgap to anti-intellectualism
It’s not that the internet is anti-intellectual; its academic roots and the immense quantity of scholarly sites certainly attest to it being a smart medium.

It’s not that the internet is anti-intellectual; its academic roots and the immense quantity of scholarly sites certainly attest to it being a smart medium.

But for some, the alluring immediacy of the internet can lead to the false impression that only immediate, interactive and on-the-spot online discussion is of value. Dusty books on tall shelves then seem to represent stagnant knowledge, and their curators (librarians), behind the times. Books and reading easily gets regarded as elitist and inactive, while blogging becomes the here-and-now.

But, as mentioned earlier, not everything is on the internet. Access to books and theories from hundreds of years of cultural history is essential to progress. Without this, technology could become the ironic tool of the sensational and retrograde cultural tendencies. Preserving libraries to store knowledge and teach the limitations of technology can help prevent the hubris and narcissism of technological novelty.

33. Old books are valuable
The idea of a library becoming a “book museum” in the age of digitization is sometimes tossed about as an apocalyptic figure of speech. It’s a real scare for librarians. The term insinuates that, rather than become contemporary and useful, libraries could turn into historical fetishes like vinyl records or typewriters. And instead of continuing on as research professionals, librarians would be forced to become like museum curators – or, more likely, they would just lose their jobs.

But if the evolution of libraries grows to become an interactive meeting place for cultural events and the exchange of ideas, the preservation and exhibition of archival literary relics could be yet another facet to their importance (and, yes, intrigue). Indeed, old books are not only monetarily valuable, but they are part of cultural, historical memory that mustn’t be lost to digitization.

Society is not ready to abandon the library, and it probably won’t ever be. Libraries can adapt to social and technological changes, but they can’t be replaced. While libraries are distinct from the internet, librarians are the most suited professionals to guide scholars and citizens toward a better understanding of how to find valuable information online. Indeed, a lot of information is online. But a lot is still on paper. Instead of regarding libraries as obsolete, state and federal governments should increase funding for improved staffing and technology. Rather than lope blindly through the digital age, guided only by the corporate interests of web economics, society should foster a culture of guides and guideposts. Today, more than ever, libraries and librarians are extremely important for the preservation and improvement of our culture.