Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Gilbert library to be first to drop Dewey Decimal

Yvonne Wingett
The Arizona Republic
May. 30, 2007 12:00 AM

When the new Gilbert library opens next month, it will be the first public library in the nation whose entire collection will be categorized without the Dewey Decimal Classification System, Maricopa County librarians say.

Instead, tens of thousands of books in the Perry Branch library will be shelved by topic, similar to the way bookstores arrange books. The demise of the century-old Dewey Decimal system is overdue, county librarians say: It's just too confusing for people to hunt down books using those long strings of numbers and letters. Dewey essentially arranges books by topic and assigns call numbers for each book.

"A lot of times, patrons feel like they're going to a library and admitting defeat because they don't understand Dewey Decimal and can't find the book they're looking for," said Marshall Shore, adult service coordinator for the Maricopa County Library District and driving force behind the idea. "People think of books by subject. Very few people say, 'Oh, I know Dewey by heart.' "

Libraries are trying to adapt to changing times, experts said, and their success lies in a generation of young people who are more comfy at Borders than libraries. Across the U.S., some libraries are trying to lure readers by adding lounge chairs and coffee shops.

Some are incorporating the "bookstore" shelving system into sections of libraries but still use Dewey, or other classification systems, to arrange the bulk of collections, said Leslie Burger, president of the American Library Association.

The books in Gilbert's new library will be organized in about 50 sections, then subsections, from sports to cooking, gardening to mysteries. For example, a book on the Civil War would be in the history neighborhood and in the U.S. section.

"Nowadays, people are used to going to a bookstore to browse, so we're just trying to create that same atmosphere," Shore said.

"I know Dewey fans are out there. But we haven't changed a lot in so long, and I think we're in a fight for our own survival."

The Future of Libraries

Here's the second of my three videos shot at the Mid-Atlantic Library Futures Conference two weeks ago. This one is a little more professionally focused than the other two -- librarians talking about where they think their profession is going:

The first video in the series can be found here.

I'm currently finishing up the editing of the third and final video in this series, and hope to have it up by the end of the week. It includes the promised surprising thoughts about bilingual education from Salvador Avila (who appears in this video, too), some ruminations on generations past and future, and attempts at answering what is by far and away the most important question that can be asked about the future.

So stay tuned.

Bookstore owner burns books in protest

[no mention of the thriving anarchist bookstore nearby]

Tom Wayne has amassed thousands of books in a warehouse during the 10 years he has run his used book store, Prospero's Books.

His collection ranges from best sellers, such as Tom Clancy's "The Hunt for Red October" and Tom Wolfe's "Bonfire of the Vanities," to obscure titles, like a bound report from the Fourth Pan-American Conference held in Buenos Aires in 1910. But when he wanted to thin out the collection, he found he couldn't even give away books to libraries or thrift shops; they said they were full.

So on Sunday, Wayne began burning his books in protest of what he sees as society's diminishing support for the printed word.

"This is the funeral pyre for thought in America today," Wayne told spectators outside his bookstore as he lit the first batch of books.

The fire blazed for about 50 minutes before the Kansas City Fire Department put it out because Wayne didn't have a permit for burning.

Wayne said next time he will get a permit. He said he envisions monthly bonfires until his supply -- estimated at 20,000 books -- is exhausted.

"After slogging through the tens of thousands of books we've slogged through, and to accumulate that many and to have people turn you away when you take them somewhere, it's just kind of a knee-jerk reaction," he said. "And it's a good excuse for fun."

Wayne said he has seen fewer customers in recent years as people more often get their information from television or the Internet. He pointed to a 2002 study by the National Endowment for the Arts, that found that less than half of adult respondents reported reading for pleasure, down from almost 57 percent in 1982.

Kansas City has seen the number of used bookstores decline in recent years, and there are few independent bookstores left in town, said Will Leathem, a co-owner of Prospero's Books.

"There are segments of this city where you go to an estate sale and find five TVs and three books," Leathem said.

The idea of burning the books horrified Marcia Trayford, who paid $20 Sunday to carry away an armload of tomes on art, education and music.

"I've been trying to adopt as many books as I could," she said.

Dozens of other people took advantage of the book-burning, searching through the books waiting to go into the flames for last-minute bargains.

Mike Bechtel paid $10 for a stack of books, including an antique collection of children's literature, which he said he'd save for his 4-year-old son.

"I think, given the fact it is a protest of people not reading books, it's the best way to do it," Bechtel said. "(Wayne has) made the point that not reading a book is as good as burning it."

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Surprise found in library book

posted by HollyB on Saturday May 26,
from the lost-and-found dept.

We all have our stories about interesting things found in library books. But a clerk at the Hillsboro (Or.) Shute Park Library found a big one: over $6000 in cash. A local patron donated a bunch of books to the library, forgetting that he had been storing his stash of cash in an Eric Van Lustbader novel. Luckily, he remembered and retrieved the cash a few days later.

The man is staying anonymous: he has been socking away the cash, a little at a time, to buy a surprise 20th anniversary present for his wife.

Full story from The Oregonian.

Library patron records confidentiality? A proposed exception you could drive a truck through

From Library Law Blog

The Wisconsin Library Association has a good explanation of the recent state attorney general opinion finding library surveillance tapes protected as library records under state law. Unfortunately, in my estimation, the proposed amendment seems to be written more broadly than it need be.

5) Library records may be released for administrative library purposes, including establishment or maintenance of a system to manage the library records or to assist in the transfer of library records from one records management system to another, compilation of statistical data on library use, collection of fines and penalties, and the protection of library staff, library users, and library property. Records released to third parties for administrative library purposes may not be used or disclosed for any other purpose.

Protection of staff, users, property? Who decides? Isn't that exactly the reason law enforcement generally ASKS for patron records? The library shouldn't decide when patron records should be turned over, and neither should law enforcement. A neutral, detached magistrate should decide, evaluating the context -- weighing both security and privacy. The magistrate will then issue court orders in some cases and deny them in others.

It seems that the problem could be better cured by defining library records more narrowly.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Four Habits of Highly Effective Librarians

Todd Gilman Has A Column in the Chronicle of Higer Ed. in which he offers his list of four traits that would not only make librarians more effective, but happier and more productive, too.
1. Openness
2. Responsiveness
3. Collaboration
4. Communication

Todd Gilman is the librarian for literature in English at Yale University's Sterling Memorial Library.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Voters reject tax levies in 5 timber counties

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

MEDFORD -- Jackson County voters rejected a new property tax that would have reopened their libraries, as voters in four other timber counties soundly turned back similar tax increases Tuesday.

The 15 library branches in Jackson County were closed last month to address a budget shortfall. The levy, defeated 59 percent to 41 percent, would have raised about $24.9 million over the next three years and had the libraries up and running again by next month.

Library supporters now are looking to the future.

"We have a lot of work to do," said Joe Davis, chairman of the Save Our Library System committee. "We're going to keep fighting for our county." The group spent more than $100,000 on the election and faced no organized opposition.

The measure was one of five tax proposals on county ballots in Oregon to make up for the loss of money that the federal government has paid counties for years to replace reduced timber revenue. In addition to getting a majority of votes, the levies also required a voter turnout of at least 50 percent to pass.

Elsewhere, voters in Coos and Curry counties rejected property tax levies that would have funded public safety programs. The Coos vote was 68 percent to 32 percent. The Curry vote was 67 percent to 33 percent.

Curry County Commissioner Lucie LaBonte said commissioners will meet to cut an additional $600,000 out of the emergency budget. If the federal safety net isn't approved, there will be no more patrol officers beginning July 1, she said.

Lane County residents voted 71 percent to 29 percent to defeat a 1.1 percent income tax to raise $32.5 million annually for public safety. A similar proposal narrowly failed in November.

Commissioners enacted the tax this spring but agreed to put it on the ballot after hearing from constituents.

Even if Congress approves a House proposal to fund the timber payment program for one year, the county will face a long-term budget crisis, said Amber Fossen, Lane County spokeswoman.

But Bob Hooker, director of the opposition group, "We Said No," said there's plenty of waste in the county budget to cut.

"The more we dug into this thing, the more we found hidden," he said.

In Josephine County, voters turned down a property tax increase 59 percent to 41 percent to raise $46.2 million over the next three years to cover full-time sheriff's patrols, the county jail and juvenile detention facility, and county prosecutors.

Some counties continue to hope the state's congressional delegation will come through with some eleventh-hour funding, but such a bail out appears unlikely. Last week, the House passed an emergency spending bill that includes $425 million for a one-year extension of the county payments, but the White House has threatened to veto the bill.

Watching the book world!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

state of the library

May 15th, 2007

Librarians I’ve talked with haven’t generally been pleased with ALA’s 07 State of America’s Libraries. I hear grumbling. I hear mumbling that the report is self-serving. I hear much cynical dissatisfaction that the ALA is out of touch, glancing rosily around at a future they don’t much get. Maybe that’s not fair. I mean, after all, they presumably haven’t cooked the books to get to these statistics.

Angel makes a good point:

And we still have our work cut out for us in terms of educating people about social networks. That we have a bunch of hysteria mongers trying to legislate something they don’t understand is simply disgraceful.

Truly any new big numbers of library visitors are mostly visitors to library computer labs, no? What do folks overwhelmingly do on the computers? Visit social networks, yes. The report says that public library connection speeds don’t live up to user “needs”. Ha. Haha.

Folks, we’re standing around shrugging at each other over web2.0, yet to really imagine and implement good information services that use social networking, folksonomy, or user-generated content to excellent effect. We’re mostly trying to convince our administrative overlords that we should at least have this discussion, to at leat talk about the potential benefits and pitfalls of making ourselves availabe on, like, Facebook.

And while we stand shrugging, web3.0, a more or less intelligent “semantic” web, is slowly growing its bones. What will it take to make real technological (and therefore cultural) leaders out of librarians? Maybe it’s a lost cause. We fold to “hysteria mongers” who are even more short sighted than we are.

I’m not feeling very hopeful, either, at the moment. And I am beginning to think that the real information service action is corporate. We didn’t build it, they didn’t come. Yahoo! built it. Google built it. Ask built it. MySpace built it. Our patrons don’t come to us, they just come for MySpace.

We’ve dropped the ball.

2 comments to “state of the library”

First, thanks for the link. To be honest, by the time I posted about, I figured it would slip unseen. Anyhow, you hit it well. We need to get our overlords in the library world to at least start having the discussions. The patrons are already at the next level (well, for the most part. I don’t buy every single patron has gone 2.0 either). I would like to think that we can get librarians to that point you mention of being leaders. Unfortunately, I look around, and I hate to say this, but it may take some people just getting weeded out. I probably should quit while I am ahead (I am in a setting where certain “leaders” can do best by simply retiring and getting out of our way). It’s hard to be hopeful, but we should at least try. Best, and keep on blogging.

Vet Prosecuted for Opposing Recruitment in Library

By Matthew Rothschild

May 14, 2007

Tim Coil served in the first Gulf War and now suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

On March 12, he and his wife, Yvette, went to the Stow-Munroe Falls Public Library in Ohio. At 37, she is a student at Kent State and needed to study for a biology test. Tim, 40, was reading some books.

Then they noticed two military recruiters trying to enlist someone in a nearby room, with a large glass window.

She decided to take action.

She took out some 3x5 cards and wrote messages to the man being recruited and then put them up on the window sill.

His wife was putting up 3x5 cards on the window of the room used by the recruiters.

“Don’t fall for it! Military recruiters lie,” said one.

“It’s not honorable to fight for a lying President,” said another.

Then the police came.

“Don’t fall for it! Military recruiters lie,” said one.

“It’s not honorable to fight for a lying President,” said another.

She says she cleared it all first.

“Before I put those cards up, I went to a volunteer and I asked her if it was OK if I put those cards up in the window, and she said she didn’t have a problem with that but talk to someone who works there,” Yvette says. “The next person said it was fine so long as there is no confrontation. And she said, ‘Between you and I, I wish they weren’t here, either.’ ”

The recruiters were none too happy with the cards.

One of them came out and asked Coil who put them up.

When she admitted she had, he asked for her name, which she didn’t give him.

He told her that she and her husband couldn’t put the cards up.

“My husband asked him if he was trying to keep us from using our freedom of speech,” Coil says.

He didn’t answer that, she says, but he did tell her again to stop.

He took the cards and went to find the library director.

In the meantime, Coil put some more card on the sill:

“Don’t do it.”

“My husband is a Gulf War Veteran. He can tell you the TRUTH.”

“To the military, you are cannon fodder.”

“Recruiters: You’re fighting for my freedom of speech, too!”

The library director, Doug Dotterer, told them that if they put up one more card, he was going to ask them to leave, Coil says. He told them they couldn’t display things that were disturbing other people in the library. She told him that the Army had its brochures out on a nearby table, and they were disturbing her, she says.

“My husband said that the library was a public place and we are allowed our freedom of speech,” Coil says. “The director said it was his library, and so we would have to follow his rules.”

When he left, they knocked on the window and urged the man being recruited not to join up.

Soon the police arrived.

They asked the Coils to leave the building.

“We said, ‘Gladly,’ ” Yvette recalls.

But on his way out, Tim called the director a name.

“One more word from you and I’ll arrest you,” the police officer told Tim.

Then Tim shouted, “Don’t let the military recruit people in the library.”

Whereupon the police arrested him and took him to the station and booked him for disorderly conduct. A little while later, Yvette came and picked him up.

The district attorney did not return phone calls for comment.

Library Director Dotterer would not talk except to say: “I contacted my board president, who is an attorney, and he indicated that because this is an ongoing case we’re not going to comment. What I would refer you to are the official police reports.”

The police report says Coil was arrested for “causing a disturbance within a library.”

At an April 30 pretrial meeting, Coil was asked if he wanted to make a plea and settle the whole thing.

“No, I’m not guilty,” he said, according to his wife.

She explains: “We’re Mennonite. To lie about that would be wrong. I don’t want him to go to jail. Neither does he. He doesn’t need that. But I believe that God’s going to take care of it. We’re OK with whatever happens. The point is if we don’t stand for these freedoms and we don’t allow ourselves to be put on the line for those things, there won’t be an option anymore.”

Attorney William Whitaker is representing the Coils.

“If a statute punishes this conduct, then that statute is unconstitutional since it sweeps protected speech within its orbit,” he says. “They were engaged in protected First Amendment speech. It’s legitimate to use the public library in the same way that the recruiters were using it.”

On May 10, Yvette Coil says that her lawyer was advised that the state would drop charges if they would pay $100 in court fees.

“Tim said he should not have to pay for being harassed,” says Yvette. “No one has the right to take your freedoms away.”

The case is scheduled for June 5.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

BookSwim aims to be the Netflix of books

The launch of BookSwim is only days away, and the startup's founders are late for an appointment.

"We were out looking for shelving solutions for our warehouse," said George Burke, 25.

"By that, we mean shelves," translated Shamoon Siddiqui, 24.

Starting an Internet operation is serious business. But these graduates of the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) know better than to take themselves too seriously. Grand dreams can rise or fall over mundane details, such as shelves for a warehouse that happens to be the basement of Siddiqui's parents' house.

BookSwim aims to be the "Netflix of books." Since 1998, Netflix has become the king of online DVD services by renting batches of DVDs via the mail for a fixed monthly fee, and letting subscribers keep the movies as long as they like.

That's how BookSwim is meant to work. For $15 to $20 per month, the company will send your top five book choices. Return three books in a prepaid envelope, and your next three choices will be mailed to you.

For now, the founders are the only employees and will handle the mailing themselves. Assuming demand develops, they plan to hire part-time helpers.

Orders can be placed at, along with customers' book ratings and comments. Burke and Siddiqui had an inventory of about 80,000 books when they launched the site's introductory phase in March.

Siddiqui says the website will recommend titles based on customers' past selections.

Hold on, guys. Don't libraries lend books for free?

"The big complaint is most libraries have working hours -- they typically close at 5 p.m.," Siddiqui said. And someone may have checked out the book you want.

Not necessary to own a book

What's wrong with book clubs?

"You still are filling up your house with unnecessary books," Burke said. "We feel it's not necessary to own a book, though you can have the option to buy if you like."

They have honed this pitch during six months of quizzing strangers at libraries, bookstores and subway stations. They say suppliers include a local branch of wholesaler Baker & Taylor, and used-book sellers such as Powell's Books and Alibris.

For now, downloadable electronic books aren't on the menu. Burke and Siddiqui cited licensing issues and shortcomings of e-reader devices. So far, e-books only account for about a tenth of 1 percent of the $25 billion U.S. publishing market, according to Dan Rose, former director of digital media for

BookSwim prefers best-selling paperbacks that generate repeat rentals and are cheap to ship. Don't expect to find many textbooks or obscure tomes.

"If you're into Bavarian architecture from the 16th century, that stinks for us because we have to go out and buy that book," said Burke, who is cofunding the venture through loans and the sale of Circular Orb, a Web design company he ran. "We're limiting our inventory based on what's shippable, what's rentable, and what doesn't cost us too much to buy in the first place."

The scheme may not be as far-fetched as it sounds.

"It's an idea worth taking a close look at. ... In general, the climate for investing right now is very good," said Henry Kressel, a venture capitalist at Warburg Pincus and author of "Competing for the Future, How Digital Innovations Are Changing the World."

Watch out for deep pockets

BookSwim's fear should be copycats with deep pockets, said Fernando Alvarez, director of the entrepreneurship program at the Rutgers Business School and one of Siddiqui's professors in the school's MBA program.

"The challenge is to prove the business works, but to stay under the radar screen of the people who can eat them alive," Alvarez said. "They have to be successful, but not too successful."

Burke and Siddiqui's fixation on pulp fiction stems from long hours in bookstores.

"We would read in Barnes and Noble a lot because we were too cheap to buy the book," Siddiqui said.

After earning computer engineering degrees from NJIT, he worked for area defense contractors -- another motivation to dive into BookSwim. "It just seemed no matter how hard I worked, I was still this [tiny] piece of the puzzle. I wanted more control over the success of my labors."

A year of planning has taught the partners to shelve their friendship during business hours. They keep copious notes and swear by Google Alerts, a tool for tracking news on just about anything.

Libraries, meanwhile, don't sound too worried about BookSwim .

"Been there, done that," said Cheryl O'Connor of Infolink, a New Jersey library consortium. She says public libraries began as subscription services. If BookSwim promotes reading, "more power to them."

Which brings us to that name. BookSwim, said Siddiqui, suggests an "ocean of books."

Burke translates: "All the good names were taken."

Internet proposal would harm libraries

John Jansson, Trustee
Winnetka-Northfield Public Library District
Published May 16, 2007

Among the bills passed by the Illinois House and sent to the Senate is a proposal that promises to create more mischief than good. Innocently named the Internet Screening in Public Libraries Act, House Bill 1727 would force all public libraries and school libraries to install filters on all public access computers to prevent access to child pornography or other obscene depictions.

There is no question that child pornography is disgusting and child pornographers should be held accountable before the law for their sick and criminal behavior. The reality of HB-1727 is that it doesn't attack the problem.

The proposal would better be called the Public Librarians and School Librarians Don't Care About Children and We Gotta Straighten Them Out bill. It assumes that librarians are doing nothing about the problem or are oblivious to it.

That simply is not true.

Public and school librarians are very aware of the dangers posed by Internet access, in addition to the benefits, and have done something about it.

The Winnetka-Northfield Public Library District, for instance, has a rule that no child in the children's area can use a computer without supervision of a librarian or other responsible adult.

In the adult area, all computer screens face the librarian's desk so he or she can monitor them and take any action required.

Other libraries have similar policies.

In addition, some public libraries are adding filtering software -- without legislative mandate.

There is absolutely no evidence that local control is failing.

The bill would intrude unnecessarily into local communities, creating a problem where none has been shown to exist.

The bill also creates other problems.

Among them:

- It proposes a technological solution that doesn't always work. Any filtering software will block Web sites that are not pornographic, and no filtering software can totally outwit the creativity of pornographers. Thus the librarians who depend on filters rather than personal supervision can still be found guilty under this bill.

- It would be expensive for school libraries and public libraries, which have better ways to spend taxpayer money to help children. The Illinois Library Association estimates a typical network installation would cost $10,000 plus $3,000 a year. The bill imposes fines of $100 a day for any offense, which will further squeeze public library and school budgets that are already stretched.

Legislators who truly want to protect and support children have many options:

- Consider House Bill 660 and Senate Bill 1472, which mandate schools to teach Internet safety to students. Fund the program if adopted.

- Provide funding to distribute the pamphlet "The Internet & Our Children" to libraries and schools. The publication, from the Illinois Library Association, is an excellent teaching tool.

Happiness wins science book prize

A scientific exploration of the various ways people attempt to make themselves happy has won the annual Royal Society Prize for Science Books.
"There are very few countries (including my own - the US) where a somewhat cheeky book about happiness could win a science prize - but the British invented intellectual humour and have always understood that enlightenment and entertainment are natural friends. So God bless the empire!"

Monday, May 14, 2007

Library group looks to pull plug on Internet for a day

Posted Sunday, May 13, 2007

Libraries across Illinois are being urged by an industry association to shut off free Internet access Monday to protest a proposed state law.

At issue is the Internet Screening in Public Libraries Act. The proposal was passed by a 63-51 vote in the Illinois House of Representatives last week and has been referred to the Senate’s Rules Committee.

Under the act, every library would need filters on public computers to prevent child pornography and other obscene images from appearing. Libraries would have to annually certify compliance or risk losing state grants.

Republican state Rep. Paul Froehlich of Schaumburg is among those who voted in favor of the act. He said Internet filters have worked well for more than 10 years at the Schaumburg Township District Library, the state’s second largest.

“I think most people object to paying for pornography for sexual predators,” he said.

But the Illinois Library Association is opposed to the proposed law. The organization’s executive director, Robert P. Doyle, wants all state libraries to disconnect Internet access Monday to demonstrate solidarity against the filtering plan.

Doyle suggests libraries post signs explaining why there is no Internet availability.

Libraries also should inform patrons the legislation would require that a companion older than 21 accompany a minor who seeks unfiltered computer use for homework purposes, Doyle said.

An adult would be allowed to ask a librarian for unfiltered computer access for legitimate research or other lawful purposes.

It would cost libraries at least $10,000 for filtering software, plus $3,000 for annual maintenance, according to Doyle.

He said the filters provide a false sense of security and block important information.

Moreover, a majority of libraries already have policies prohibiting the viewing of pornography on computers, according to the association.

State Rep. Elaine Nekritz, a Democrat from Des Plaines, said she voted against the proposal because librarians have the ability to call police if someone is examining inappropriate material on the Internet. She added that one community standard cannot be applied across a state as large as Illinois.

“This really should be for the local libraries to consider,” Nekritz said.

Kristy Mangel, member services coordinator at the Illinois Library Association, said the Internet blackout effort was hastily arranged, so it’s difficult to project the participation level for Monday.

Mangel said the number of libraries that turn off the Internet won’t matter.

“I think a success would be having libraries and library issues more visible on Monday than they are the other 364 days of the year,” she said.

State lawmakers rejected a similar attempt at an Internet filtering requirement for public libraries in 2005.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Illinois Librarians Plan Internet Shutddown

posted by Blake

Denise Varenhorst, President Family Friendly Libraries writes " Illinois State Senators have been contacted by Family Friendly Libraries to alert them about the planned public library Internet Shutdown.

Librarians across Illinois are planning to SHUT DOWN INTERNET ACCESS AT LOCAL LIBRARIES and distribute political fliers to library patrons on May 14th, 2007. attempt to build opposition to the Internet Filtering Bill 1727 Senators have been informed taht local libraries are posting their specific protest plan and their own contact information on the Internet, and they can see what their local library is planning at Click on "Message Board"; for complete list of protest plans. Family Friendly Libraries believes that local librarians have NO RIGHT TO DENY LIBRARY USERS SERVICES they have paid for simply because of the librarians' political views."

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Library gets money to make 'health and safety' repairs

May 10, 2007

Deteriorated. Outdated. Ill-kept. Dilapidated. Tired. Shoddy. Threadbare.

CHARLIE NEUMAN / Union-Tribune
The Escondido library got $400,000 for repairs, but it says it needs more to update services such as more computers with Internet access for D'ellis Foret and other residents.
Those are some of the words used to describe Escondido's main library, Stan Levy, president of the library's board of trustees, told City Council members yesterday.

The council unanimously approved spending $400,000 on immediate repairs, and members said they will keep in mind that the library needs a more extensive overhaul that will cost about $1.3 million.

“Let's get the work done,” Councilman Ed Gallo said in approving the money for the most-needed renovations.

Yesterday's decision represented a shift of focus by the city after years of trying to build a new library.

The $400,000 will pay for “health and safety” fixes, librarian Laura Mitchell said. That includes repairing elevators that grunt and screech, ceiling tiles damaged by roof leaks and old air-conditioning units that likely won't survive the summer without breaking down.

Other repairs needed at the 27-year-old library include: renovations of public restrooms; new lighting, window coverings, carpet, paint and tables and more chairs; an expanded parking lot; moving the historic Woman's Club building away from the library site; a new main entrance; and an exterior paint job. The cost for that work will be addressed in the budget for next fiscal year.

The money for the immediate improvements and the more extensive ones would come from $10.4 million in a capital reserve fund that had been earmarked for a new library slated to cost about $30 million. The city planned to use its money as the required matching funds for a state grant that never materialized.

The city's library opened in 1980, when people still checked out record albums, Mitchell said. Since then, it has grown to serve more than 2,500 people a day.

Beginning in 2000, the city and library staffs focused on applying for state grants for a new library, which left the needs of the existing library largely unaddressed.

But after two unsuccessful bids for a state grant, followed by a state library bond measure that voters rejected last year, and no new funding prospects in sight, the city has instead decided to fix the library it has.

“A new library is five, seven, maybe 10 years away,” said Don Anderson, director of community services. “We must bring back what we have now.”

The dream for a new library is not dead, Mitchell said. But now the focus must be on upgrading the old library, not only in looks but also in function.

For example, more automated services found in modern libraries are needed, such as more computers with Internet access, a modern phone system, self-service kiosks and microfiche data in a digital format.

“It's got some problems,” Patrick Molenaar said while visiting the library yesterday with daughters Lily, 7, and Sasha, 4. The three check out books about once a month, Molenaar said, but often have to wait for computers and don't use the elevator because of the noises it makes.

“I'd like to see something similar like the nicer libraries in town,” said Molenaar, who added that he often goes to the newer county library in San Marcos, even though it's farther away.

“It's not the standard that the people of Escondido deserve in their library,” Mitchell said.

Lubuto Libraries Provide Haven for AIDS Orphans, Street Children

U.S.-supported project in Zambia may expand to other African countries

Washington -- Children in Lusaka, Zambia, whose parents died of AIDS can find refuge from life on the streets in a special library where they read or listen to stories, learn about the wider world and improve their chances for an education.

The Lubuto Library Project was started by an American woman who believes that, in addition to food and shelter, every child deserves a chance to learn and to hope for a better future. Lubuto is a word in the Bemba language of Central Africa that means "enlightenment, knowledge and light," says Jane Kinney Meyers, the project’s founder and president.

The project has taken shape as a Washington nonprofit organization that is collecting 5,000 high-quality children’s books to be shipped to Lusaka and housed in a special library being built in the traditional Zambian architectural style. This first library, which will open later this year, will be the model for 100 more the project hopes to build in Zambia and other African countries.

The next two Lubuto libraries are scheduled to be built in the rural communities of Nabukuyu and Itimpi. Each will have a complete collection of children’s books in new or excellent condition, said Meyers, because “we want the children we serve to know that we respect them and feel they are worthy of good, new books.”

Meyers, an American librarian who spent many years in Africa, notes that for reasons ranging from lack of money to prejudice, children orphaned by AIDS, as well as other street kids, often are unable to attend school. The Lubuto library will provide them “an opportunity to learn,” to improve their literacy and even to study for secondary school entrance exams.

In 1998 Meyers visited the Fountain of Hope drop-in center for street children in Lusaka and began reading aloud to the kids. There was an overwhelming response, she said; she would spend one or two hours reading to the children and “they still were begging for more.” In 2001 Meyers and the Fountain of Hope staff started a small library in a metal shipping container with books donated from the United States and the United Kingdom, and children lined up to get in.

Meyers, interviewed in Washington, recounted how, a year after her return to the United States, she “began to hear that because of that library, kids were able to go to secondary school.” Motivated youngsters were coming to the library and studying for school entrance exams. “The tests ask a lot of questions about things around the world, such as who is the president of the United States, and the kids were able to learn” by reading, she said. “Now those kids are grown up, and they have all finished high school.”

Enlarge Photo
Lubuto Library
Workers thatch the roof of the first Lubuto Library in Lusaka, Zambia. (Courtesy Lubuto Library Project)

Among these are Kenneth Hau, who now does outreach for the Fountain of Hope and wants to work in the new Lubuto library when it opens. Another young visitor to the shipping-container library, Humphrey Mulenga, graduated from high school and is doing outreach for AIDS prevention groups. His memoir is on the Lubuto Library Project Web site.

The project works with the Zambian Library Association as well as the ministries of education and child development. U.S. donations come from individuals, libraries, book publishers, the National Geographic Society and other donors.

Several secondary schools in the Washington area have conducted book drives, and each Sunday afternoon students help classify the donated books and prepare them for shipment to Zambia. “We are trying to raise awareness among young people here how HIV/AIDS has affected other young people in Africa,” Meyers said.

Her daughter Penelope, 17, and son Henry, 14, are involved in the project. Penelope said she learned of the plight of AIDS orphans and other street kids during her years in Zambia with her family. “But I have friends who haven’t ever been to Africa who are able to understand the importance of this and have been eager to get involved,” she said.

In November 2006 a documentary on the project, narrated by U.S. civil rights leader Julian Bond, premiered at an event hosted by the U.S. Embassy in Lusaka. The Lubuto Library Project “reflects the standards of library services for children in the United States, as well as the American tradition of free access to information and learning,” said U.S. Ambassador Carmen Martinez. “Likewise, beginning here in Zambia, Lubuto libraries will provide an opening into the world, making available education, information” and hope for children who need it most, she added.

The new library in Lusaka will replace the shipping container. The main building will have a sunken sitting area in the center for reading or storytelling as well as smaller reading areas around the perimeter. There will also be an arts center. The beauty of the buildings tells the children “that somebody cares about them,” said Meyers.

Children will be encouraged to write down stories in their native languages. And, with most of the donated books in English, Meyers said she is eager to find more books in local languages.

Meyers said it is critical that the Lubuto libraries are beautiful, welcoming and respectful of local tradition “because the children we’re serving have for the most part been cut off completely from their culture. In a society where your identity is so closely tied up with your family and your relationships to your people, it’s a profound trauma not to have [those] connection[s].”

“We want these libraries to be the place where society reaches back and pulls them back in,” she said.

More information on the Lubuto Library Project is available on the organization’s Web site.

(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

The Hollywood Librarian Trailer

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Books to Borrow … Books to Buy - Salute your local librarian, keeper of the stacks

May 7, 2007

hen I was a little girl, I used to ride my bicycle to the library. I loved walking down the long, narrow stacks of books, knowing that something special could be found in so many of the titles. I used to marvel at the library card in the back of each book, chronicling how many people had read that same book. Did they like it? Did it give them something of value?

I also liked my librarian, the lone sentinel in our little house of wisdom – the library. She was always helpful in guiding me to books that she thought I might like, and tended all the volumes with care – checking books in and out and making sure the books were returned to the right place so others could find them with ease.

I think it's important to recognize our librarians, the guardians of the books that provide us with so much. I'd like to extend a sincere note of thanks to every librarian out there. Without their careful tending of the contents of the library, we would all suffer. Librarians are an invaluable resource in our pursuit of pleasure, knowledge and understanding. Let them know you appreciate what they do. They deserve it.

Books to Borrow

The following book is available at many public libraries.

"Stargirl" by Jerry Spinelli, Alfred A. Knopf, 186 pages

Read aloud: age 10 and older.

Read yourself: age 10 and older.

When Stargirl arrives at Mica High School, the student body is buzzing with questions. Why does she dress the way she does? Why does she have a pet rat, carry a ukulele, and sing "Happy Birthday" to people in the cafeteria (and how does she know it's their birthday, anyway?). And although Stargirl is completely different from anyone they've ever met, the students begin to like her and are propelled into a new school spirit they've never experienced.

But soon Stargirl's nonconformity begins to grate on a few of the student's nerves, and shortly thereafter the whole school shuns Stargirl for everything that makes her unconventional. They also shun her once-popular boyfriend, Leo, and in Leo's panic to make things "right," he urges Stargirl to change, to become "normal." Then one day, Stargirl simply disappears.

An emotional story about nonconformity, peer pressure, "popularity" and the thrill of first love, this story provides important lessons for adolescents on a variety of levels.

Librarian's Choice

Library: Aldrich Public Library, 6 Washington St., Barre

Library Director: Karen Lane

Children and Youth Services Librarian: Adrianne Scucces

Choices this week: "Youch, It Bites!" by Trevor Day; "What Would Joey Do?" by Jack Gantos; "In the Rain With Baby Duck" by Amy Hest

Books to Buy

The following books are available at favorite bookstores.

"Magic in the Margins: A Medieval Tale of Bookmaking" by W. Nikola-Lisa, illustrated by Bonnie Christensen, Houghton Mifflin, 2007, 32 pages, $17.00 hardcover

Read aloud: age 6 – 7 and older.

Read yourself: age 8 and older.

In the Middle Ages, young orphaned Simon had a keen mind and was a quick learner. When he appeared at the door of a monastery, the Brothers took him in. Master scribe Brother William was put in charge of educating Simon, and taught Simon all about bookmaking.

Simon loved his job, and most of all he loved the illustrations that lined the margins of the books. Simon soon felt ready to be an illustrator himself, but before the monastery's father would allow that, he gave Simon an assignment. He told Simon that "to be an artist you must have both skill and vision… you must first demonstrate this ability … by capturing mice."

Perseverance, imagination, and slices of history combine to make this selection interesting and most satisfying.

"Coco Counts: A Little Chick's First Book of Numbers" by Sloane Tanen, photographed by Stefan Hagen, Bloomsbury, 2007, 22 pages, $6.95 board book

Read aloud: age 2 – 4.

Read yourself: age 7.

"If 1 chick is good, are 2 chicks much better? If 3 chicks are chilly, should 4 knit a sweater?" So begins this little learning book about numbers, boasting amusing text and funny photographs of fake fuzzy chicks doing all sorts of crazy things.

And don't miss the equally fun companion volume, "C is for Coco: A Little Chick's First Book of Letters" – also a 22-page board book for $6.95.

Nationally syndicated, Kendal Rautzhan writes and lectures on children's literature. She can be reached via e-mail:

Miss Manners in Second Life

posted by John on Monday May 07, @08:27AM

A recent NPR video story examines some of the social behavior in Second Life. Libraries are starting to develop a presence in Second Life, although not everyone is on sold on the concept yet. Are virtual libraries (and librarians) like this the wave of the future?



May 7, 2007 -- It's a pervert's dream come true.

Hundreds of city elementary-school kids are sitting ducks at public libraries where they hang out alone, unsupervised and vulnerable, because their parents can't afford after-school baby sitters or don't want to deal with their own kids.

The crisis has turned libraries into impromptu day-care centers and good-hearted librarians into unofficial baby sitters for children who have nowhere to go between 3 and 6 p.m.

"It's a growing problem throughout the state," said Michael Borges, the executive director of the New York Library Association. "It's unfortunate that parents are so desperate that they have to use a library as a baby-sitting service."

Fed-up librarians say the overlooked problem is a tragedy waiting to happen.

"I do the best I can, but sometimes, there are just too many for me to watch," an East Harlem librarian said. "One day, a kid disappeared for five hours, and the mother got in my face and threatened to sue me because I wasn't watching her daughter."

A Brooklyn librarian said she's even called the cops because unattended kids were left behind after the library closed.

The standard rule across the state is that children under 14 are prohibited from hanging out in a library without an adult, Borges said. But that didn't stop a rambunctious first-grader from recently being left alone in the East 110th Street library branch for two hours to do his math and English homework.

A 10-year-old said he spends about 90 minutes in the same library until "I get the call from my father when he's ready to pick me up."

"My mom is at work, so she can't pick me up," the boy said.

Margaret Tice, the New York system's coordinator of children services, said only, "The library staff makes sure the library is safe for all of our patrons."

Jason Carey, a spokesman for the Brooklyn Public Library, said unattended children are handled on a "case-by-case basis," adding, "I don't think we have a noticeable problem."

Tasha Salomon, 36, takes her kids to the Crown Heights branch, which is "swarming" with unattended kids.

"It's scary because you don't know what's going to happen, especially when you hear about all these kids being snatched," she said.

In March, one fed-up parent called the cops on a Bronx mom who chronically ditched her three kids, including one in a carriage, at the Morris Park branch.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Why E-Books Will Succeed

Why will e-book readers succeed? Not because e-books are good replacements for paper books — but because they’re good complements to paper books and documents, especially for work-related reading rather than pure pleasure.

Time and again we see that technology doesn’t have to mean an end to the old ways of doing things. Tech tools allow us to do things in different ways or to do things we couldn’t possibly do before, adding new value to our lives, not just reproducing value we could already access. The computer never made offices paperless; in fact, it led to more paper output. Online personal information management apps don’t make paper to do lists obsolete. Sticky notes still have value in a digital world.

ComputerWorld argues that e-books are bound to fail because they “are not, and cannot be, superior to what they are designed to replace.”

People who care enough about books to spend $25 billion on them each year tend to love books and everything about them. They love the look and feel of books. They like touching the paper, and looking at words and illustrations at a resolution no e-book will ever match. They view “curling up with a good book” as an escape from the electronic screens they look at all day. They love to carry them, annotate them, and give them as gifts. Book collecting is one of the biggest hobbies in the world.

We won’t stop doing that. But paper books and electronic books and book readers can exist alongside each other, with overlapping but not identical use cases. E-books don’t have to succeed on the criteria defined by paper books.

I love to own books because I find the best way to really absorb their content is to mark them up, write notes in the margins, fold over pages, then refer back to them when I recall something interesting or useful from them. I wish, though, that I could easily get information out of them and into my electronic store of ideas, my “memex.”

Right now, to get interesting ideas out of paper books into an electronic searchable format requires scanning with OCR or typing it in. If you’re willing to take on that labor, there are ways of making these snippets searchable. It’d be so much nicer if we would get an electronic version of a book when we purchase the paper copy and then could easily transfer our favorite chunks into our personal idea stores.

There are other reasons e-books and e-book readers may have value even in a world where paper books don’t become obsolete. Students could benefit from electronic textbooks, carrying the equivalent of a backpack full of books in a small tablet. Knowledge workers might prefer to read technical articles or lengthy professional documents on an easy to read, lightweight reader rather than printing them out and carrying them. Imagine taking hundred-page spec documents onto a plane with you just by carrying a reader loaded with them, and being able to search them electronically instead of using a table of contents or index. Service people could carry readers loaded with installation and repair manuals.

You can’t take an e-book reader into the bath tub with you, but so what? There’s room in the world for electronic and paper books.

Library shifts its attention from rowdy to well-behaved teenagers

LONGMONT — Being good has its benefits.

Since April of last year, the Longmont Public Library’s “Radically Good Behavior Raffle” has issued raffle tickets to kids at the library who demonstrate exceptional behavior.

At the end of the month, 10 winning tickets are drawn and 10 kids receive $10 coupons to movie theaters, bookstores, restaurants, swimming pools or ice cream shops.

“This rewards the good kids and explains what they did to the bad kids so they see how they can change,” said Sasha Brannigan, 12, whose quiet studying won her a quesadilla last summer.

Library staff say they’ve noticed a significant decrease in rowdy behavior since the raffles started, in part because their focus has shifted away from the disruptive teens who previously monopolized their attention.

“It’s good for the kids who are ignored for always behaving well and for the kids who don’t always behave well but are in a given moment,” said librarian Margaret Hyatt.

Librarian Ruth McMillen came up with the raffle idea for middle- and high school-age library users in Longmont. The Friends of the Longmont Public Library volunteer group spends $100 a month to fund the program.

“Parents have been really pleased. Some don’t (usually) get phone calls from people praising their kids,” McMillen said.

Taylor Varnau, a 16-year-old sophomore at Longmont High School, visits the library three times a week and has won two good-behavior raffles.

“I thought I was in trouble at first. (The ticket) says ‘You’ve been caught,’” Varnau said. “At school, I’m not noticed because I’m quiet.”

Ben Ready can be reached at 303-684-5326, or by e-mail at

Jesse Horner is an aspiring journalist and an eighth-grader at Mead Middle School.

Jail librarian helps inmates grow

Wednesday, May 2, 2007
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FARMINGTON - Swapping the pleasant outside air of a sunny May morning, Sue Fahn goes to work in the locked confines of the Franklin County Detention Center.

Fahn, of New Sharon, is the jail librarian. Her purpose is allowing inmates to choose books, read newspapers or magazines. She helps inmates as they work on high school or college classes and even teaches some to read.

Fahn, who works through Franklin County Adult Basic Education, has been serving as jail librarian since last May. Prior to becoming librarian, she was working in Family Literacy at Adult Basic Education, but when the program was cut, she replaced Connie Johnson who enlisted in the Army and was sent to Iraq.

"I feel it's a perfect opportunity, with a captive audience, to help them make changes in their lives. Hook them into something that will have a positive influence," she said.

There are a variety of things that happen while she's there. It's not just a strict classroom setting. Contracted by the detention center, she works nine hours a week Monday through Thursday mornings. A couple days a week, she said, are informal with no real goals. Inmates can come in to read papers, choose books or work on the computers. There is no Internet available but they can write letters or work with some software programs geared toward helping them grow.

Tuesdays and Thursdays are education days that involve goal setting and helping them target what they want to work on. The library offers a variety of books including topics such as physics, religion, novels and some law, she said.

Through the Adult Basic Education program, inmates may also work on obtaining their GED, college courses and classes through the Franklin County Community College. She also encourages inmates to receive more help through adult education after they are released, she said.

Fahn brings in other instructors to work on special programs. A book club type program, New Book, New Read, targets new and lower readers. Facilitator Elizabeth Cook brings the inmates together to discuss a specific topic tied to the book.

Christy Le, a social worker from Orono has come to work with the inmates on job options, and a new program, Free Inside, is in the works, she said. The program offers yoga, meditation and stretching classes.

She has also reinstated the inmates' newsletter, now called D-Block. It prints poetry, drawings and even gripes submitted by the inmates.

"We're required by law to provide every inmate a chance to get their GED and to have a library," said Carl Stinchfield of the detention center.

Money comes through an Inmate Benefit Fund, he said, that contains commissions on commissary items purchased by the inmates and a percentage from the inmate phone system.

The computers were also purchased through the inmates.

Fahn may be too new to see success stories, but Stinchfield remembers. A few years ago, he said, when a man came in, he was only able to sign his name. He couldn't read or write. Through the education process offered, at the end of his sentence he was reading novels and writing letters home to his kids.

Studies show, Fahn said, that there's a reduced percentage of returning inmates when they pursue an educational process. Stinchfield remembered one inmate who was with them annually, but after completing his GED he was out of the facility for seven years. Unfortunately, the man just came back, he said, but Stinchfield still considers it a success attributed to the education process in the facility as the inmate probably wouldn't have completed it on the outside.