Thursday, June 28, 2007

Library Doubles As Rock Venue

The thumping of the bass could be heard through the main-floor reading rooms Tuesday evening as a three-member band rocked the New Britain Public Library.

The High Strung, a Detroit-based band that sounds like the Beatles with a funkier edge, played a 12-song, one-hour set to about 50 library patrons of all ages. The basement concert kicked off the library's summer programming for teenagers.

New Britain was the second stop on the band's second nationwide library tour. Last year, the band - drummer Derek Berk, guitarist Josh Malerman and bass player Chad Stocker - played 60 shows, including one at Westport's public library, where New Britain teen librarian Ann Marie Naples saw the group.

"I heard they were touring again, and I just had to book them," Naples said.

The band admits that library shows are a little more subdued than their shows at bars, but their tunes resonated with the audience members, many of whom were unfamiliar with the musical genre.

"Why have a rock show at a library?" frontman Josh Malerman asked the audience. "It seems as good a place as any."

Tuesday's show was 12-year-old Jason LaPierre's first rock concert.

"It was better than I thought it would be," LaPierre said. "I liked how we made our own song."

After playing their own music, the band invited the audience to write and play a song of their own by culling random library books for lyrics that sounded "rock" and playing backup on percussion instruments.

Receiving no complaints from patrons using the library for its traditional purposes, Naples said she would invite the group back if it has a third library tour. But fellow librarian Pat Rutkowski pointed out the band's recent success; its music has been featured on National Public Radio and in an upcoming film with Eva Longoria.

"Next time, they might be far too famous to come here."

For more information on the New Britain library program visit

Librarians urged to play more video games

""[T]here's no doubt that libraries have embraced technology. But speakers said that there was a larger split between students - who are "digital natives," in one popular way of classifying people based on their experience with technology - and librarians, who are more likely to be "digital immigrants." They may have learned the language, but it’s a second language." So says the article at Inside Higher Ed.

"So if this hierarchical model doesn't reach today's students, what will? James Paul Gee, a linguist who is the Tashia Morgridge Professor of Reading at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and the author of Why Video Games Are Good for Your Soul, argued that librarians need to adapt their techniques to digital natives. A digital native would never read an instruction manual with a new game before simply trying the game out, Gee said. Similarly, students shouldn't be expected to read long explanations of tools they may use before they start experimenting with them.""

FBI recovers Pearl S. Buck manuscript

The FBI has recovered the long-lost manuscript of Pearl S. Buck's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "The Good Earth," which had been missing for more than 40 years.

The original typed manuscript had gone missing from Buck's family farm in the Philadelphia suburb of Perkasie around 1966. It turned up earlier this month when it was consigned to a Philadelphia auction house, which notified authorities, FBI spokeswoman Jerri Williams said.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Librarians Describe Life Under An FBI Gag Order

By Luke O'Brien
June 24, 2007

Life in an FBI muzzle is no fun. Two Connecticut librarians on Sunday described what it was like to be slapped with an FBI national security letter and accompanying gag order. It sounded like a spy movie or, gulp, something that happens under a repressive foreign government. Peter Chase and Barbara Bailey, librarians in Plainville, Connecticut, received an NSL to turn over computer records in their library on July 13, 2005. Unlike a suspected thousands of other people around the country, Chase, Bailey and two of their colleagues stood up to the Man and refused to comply, convinced that the feds had no right to intrude on anyone's privacy without a court order (NSLs don't require a judge's approval). That's when things turned ugly.

The four librarians under the gag order weren't allowed to talk to each other by phone. So they e-mailed. Later, they weren't allowed to e-mail.

After the ACLU took on the case and it went to court in Bridgeport, the librarians were not allowed to attend their own hearing. Instead, they had to watch it on closed circuit TV from a locked courtroom in Hartford, 60 miles away. "Our presence in the courtroom was declared a threat to national security," Chase said.

Forced to make information public as the case moved forward, the government resorted to one of its favorite tactics: releasing heavily redacted versions of documents while outing anyone who didn't roll over for Uncle Sam. In this case, they named Chase, despite the fact that he was legally compelled to keep his own identity secret.

Then the phone started ringing. Pesky reporters wanted info. One day, the AP called Chase's house and got his son, Sam, on the phone. When Chase got home, he took one look at his son's face. "I could tell something was very wrong," he said. Sam told him the AP had called saying that Chase was being investigated by the FBI. "What's going on?" Sam asked his father. Chase couldn't tell him. For months, he worried about what his son must have been thinking. As the case moved forward, the librarians had to resort to regular duplicity with co-workers and family -- mysteriously disappearing from work without an explanation, secretly convening in subway stations, dancing around the truth for months. The ACLU even advised Chase to move to a safehouse.

After the Bridgeport court ruled that the librarians constitutional rights had been violated, the government appealed the decision to U.S. District Court in Manhattan. Around the same time, the Congressional spin machine kicked into overdrive. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin) wrote an op-ed in USA Today that said:

"Zero. That's the number of substantiated USA Patriot Act civil liberties violations. Extensive congressional oversight found no violations. Six reports by the Justice Department's independent inspector general, who is required to solicit and investigate any allegations of abuse, found no violations."

Once President Bush reauthorized the Patriot Act, the FBI lifted the librarians' gag order. "By withdrawing the gag order before the court had made a decision, they withdrew the case from scrutiny," Chase said. This eliminated the possibility that the NSL provisions would be struck down.

Today, the Connecticut librarians are the only ones who can talk about life with an NSL gag, despite the likelihood that there are hundreds if not thousands of other similar stories out there. "Everyone else who would speak about is subject to a five year prison term," Chase said. The prison term for violating the gag order was added to the reauthorized Patriot Act.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Social sites reveal class divide

Fans of MySpace and Facebook are divided by much more than which music they like, suggests a study.

A six-month research project has revealed a sharp division along class lines among the American teenagers flocking to the social network sites.

The research suggests those using Facebook come from wealthier homes and are more likely to attend college.

By contrast, MySpace users tend to get a job after finishing high school rather than continue their education.


The conclusions are based on interviews with many teenage users of the social networking sites by PhD student Danah Boyd from the School of Information Sciences at UC Berkeley.

In a preliminary draft of the research, Ms Boyd said defining "class" in the US was difficult because, unlike many other nations, it did not map directly to income.

Instead, she said, class in the US was more about social life and networks - how people define themselves and who they define themselves with.

"Social networks are strongly connected to geography, race, and religion; these are also huge factors in lifestyle divisions and thus 'class'," she wrote.

Broadly, Ms Boyd found Facebook users tend to be white and come from families who are keen for children to get the most out of school and go on to college.

This division is just another way in which technology is mirroring societal values
Danah Boyd
Characterising Facebook users she said: "They are in honors classes, looking forward to the prom, and live in a world dictated by after school activities."

By contrast, the average MySpace teenager tendeds to come from families where parents did not go to college, she said.

Ms Boyd also found far more teens from immigrant, Latino and Hispanic families on MySpace as well as many others who are not part of the "dominant high school popularity paradigm".

"MySpace has most of the kids who are socially ostracised at school because they are geeks, freaks, or queers," she said.

Teenage users of both sites have very strong opinions about the social network they do not use, she noted.

Ms Boyd was wary of drawing too many conclusions from her research and calling Myspace "bad" or Facebook "good" or condemning social networks out of hand.

She wrote: "This division is just another way in which technology is mirroring societal values."

In some ways, Ms Boyd wrote, social networking sites are helping teenagers cope with the stresses of 21st Century life.

"Teens are using social network sites to build community and connect with their peers," she said. "And through it, they are showcasing all of the good, bad, and ugly of today's teen life."

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Internet gives birth to an 'official' online library

Sunday, June 24, 2007
by Adrian McCoy, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Post-Gazette's Adrian McCoy keeps an eye on the Internet and any online developments in arts and entertainment.

The Internet has been around long enough to have its own attic -- an ever-expanding repository of art, pop culture and information. It's the San Francisco-based Internet Archive, a Web site where surfers can spend hours exploring a universe of archived books, films, music and more.

It's not just any old online attic, though. In May, California officially recognized the Internet Archive, established in 1996, as a library. The designation makes the online archive eligible to apply for several federal grant programs that are administered by the state of California.

But even more importantly, says Brewster Kahle, Internet Archive founder and digital librarian, was the recognition that a digital library is on equal footing with a print material archive -- that the Internet is becoming "more a part of our real civic structure."

The IA Web site explains, "Libraries exist to preserve society's cultural artifacts and to provide access to them. If libraries are to continue to foster education and scholarship in this era of digital technology, it's essential for them to extend those functions into the digital world. Without cultural artifacts, civilization has no memory and no mechanism to learn from its successes and failures."

From vintage newsreels to recently uploaded V-logs, there's a good chance they are stored somewhere in the Internet Archive. Grateful Deadheads can follow the band in cyberspace from the '60s through the '90s in a series of live concerts preserved in their entirety. Or fans can download a recording of Allen Ginsberg teaching a poetry class, hear a Groucho Marx radio program or watch a move or classic cartoon.

In terms of pure entertainment, the IA is treasure trove. Much of the material it contains is either in the public domain or posted under a creative commons license, in which copyright holders can grant some distribution rights to the public.

Music fans can listen to live performances by contemporary artists or hear a radio broadcast from decades ago. Audio files can be downloaded or streamed. Many little-known bands, and a few well-known ones, have current shows posted here -- including Hank Williams III and Gomez (including their June 2006 show here at Mr. Small's Theatre).

There's a collection of vintage radio dramas and comedy programs: among them, Bob and Ray, "The Adventures of Superman," "The Inner Sanctum" and Groucho Marx and "You Bet Your Life," along with big band broadcasts and World War II news reports. The famous Orson Welles "War of the Worlds" radio broadcast, which touched off a nationwide panic about space invaders, is stored here, along with all the other Mercury Theater radio plays.

There are more than 800 feature films and shorts to watch, including George Romero's "Night of the Living Dead" -- one of the most popular movie downloads on the site -- and other classics such as "Rashomon," "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari," "Battleship Potemkin" and "His Girl Friday." There are many B horror movies as well, along with instructional and industrial films and classic animation from Warner Bros. and Max Fleischer.

Book lovers can browse through collections of old books, which are stored as PDF files, complete with illustrations. Some are e-books contributed by the Project Gutenberg online library.

The IA has gone a long way with digital preservation, too. In the deepest recesses of this online attic, The Wayback Machine stores snapshots of long-gone Web pages. According to Wikipedia, by 2006 the Wayback Machine occupied two petabytes (that's two quadrillion bytes) of memory storage space, and is growing rapidly.

For those who are nostalgic for their old computer programs, there's The Classic Software Preservation Project (CLASP), an archive of retail software dating back to the 1970s, along with collections of freeware and shareware.

All of this great stuff is accessible at no cost, but users are encouraged to donate to the site.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Harry Potter Hacked?

June 21, 2007
By Kimberly Maul

A hacker who goes by the name of Gabriel claims he obtained a digital copy of the manuscript for J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and has posted plot details online, Reuters reported. The man claims he was able to hack into the computer system at Bloomsbury, the publisher of the book.

"We make this spoiler to make reading of the upcoming book useless and boring," he wrote on the website. But, of course, the publisher is keeping mum about the truth behind the spoilers.

"There is a lot of junk flying around," said Kyle Good, a spokesman for Scholastic, the U.S. distributor of the Harry Potter books, according to Reuters. "Consider this one more theory." Bloomsbury declined to comment.

"We've had hypes like this on the last couple of Harry Potter books," David Perry, a spokesman for computer security company Trend Micro, told Reuters. "There is a very high level of spurious information in the hacker world." But whether or not readers believe Gabriel, there is only one way to find out if he is right. And that won't happen until July 21.

Debut of the Espresso Book Machine

June 22, 2007
By Kimberly Maul

In a matter of minutes, or the time it takes to drink an espresso, the new Espresso Book Machine, from On Demand Books, LLC, can print, bind and trim a book, producing a high-quality paperback book for users. The first Espresso Book Machine (EBM) was installed and is up and running at the New York Public Library's Science, Industry and Business Library.

"The Science, Industry and Business Library is delighted to showcase the Espresso Book Machine," said Kristin McDonough, the Robert and Joyce Menschel director of the SIBL. "The Espresso provides a convenient new approach to book publishing and information dissemination and we are pleased to provide our users with this first opportunity to see this new technology demonstrated at a library whose mission is to support innovation and new business ventures."

The EBM, unlike existing print-on-demand technology, is fully automatic and requires minimal human intervention. It is small enough to fit in a library or retail store.

Through the EBM, users can choose from more than 200,000 titles in the Open Content Alliance database of public domain works, such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain, or Moby Dick, by Herman Melville, as well as a selection of in-copyright books including Chris Anderson's The Long Tail. OCA is working with On Demand, and funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, to provide this digital content free to libraries across the country.

"Printed books are one of history's greatest and most enduring inventions, and after centuries, their form needs no improvement," said Jason Epstein, co-founder of On Demand Books. "What does need to change is the outdated way that books reach readers."

The machine can be purchased by any library or retailer and several libraries and organizations are set to get the machine this fall: the New Orleans Public Library, the University of Alberta (Canada) campus bookstore, the Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, Vt., and the Open Content Alliance.

The Espresso Book Machine will be at the New York Public Library's SIBL through August.

Boulder librarian disciplined for using foul language


The Jefferson County Library Board disciplined Boulder librarian Cyd Kreizwald at its June 14 meeting for allegedly cursing at three people.

Kreizwald was directed to write a letter of apology to three individuals for speaking to them using inappropriate language, said Jefferson County Commission Chair and library board member Ken Weber.

The incident involved the county’s information technology staff member Carl Purdy and two employees of B & C. Telephone Co., Weber said.

Kreizwald was also suspended without pay for three days and is to refrain from inappropriate language and behavior, he said.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Libraries woo patrons on the Web

Plug in to social networking sites

Katie Dean 6/09/2007 8:39 am

Libraries have long struggled with a stuffy reputation, but on the UW-Madison campus and in some public branches, librarians are taking a decidedly fresh approach to attracting patrons by using social networking sites.

Sites, like Facebook, MySpace and Friendster, are wildly popular among students as a way to connect with friends and socialize online. People can personalize their own Web page with pictures, notes and music, and link to their friends' pages. Fledgling bands have used MySpace to promote their music.

To see libraries plugged in to this trendy social circle is a little surprising, but librarians say it's just the newest way to reach out to their patrons and promote library services.

"People are living their lives online, especially people who are under 30," said Shawn Brommer, youth services and outreach consultant for the South Central Library System, a network of more than 50 libraries in seven counties. "If we want to stay current and provide information in a format people are expecting, we need to be very current, we need to know what social networking is and how to use it. And, we need to be where (the people) are."

Brommer said social networking helps to "keep the library at the forefront of (patrons') minds, even if they're not physically in the library."

About 10 to 15 percent of the libraries she works with are using social networking or blogs to market programs and services, and promote new materials, she said.

In fact, many libraries across the country have set up shop in these online spaces to welcome and recruit patrons. The Wendt Library, which serves the College of Engineering and the departments of computer sciences, statistics and atmospheric and oceanic sciences, is at the forefront of this trend among the University of Wisconsin-Madison's more than 40 libraries.

Amanda Werhane, liaison librarian and marketing coordinator at Wendt, runs the library's blog (, which features a collection of links and notes about useful research tools and journals. She's also set up a Wendt Library page on Facebook, MySpace and Friendster and posted library pictures on Flickr, the photo-sharing Web site.

"Social networking is almost a bridge between a static Web page and human interaction," Werhane said.

The online tools help the library to be proactive, so users "don't have to come to us. We're already there, she said. "It's like being in the neighborhood."

Werhane, the first librarian on campus to have "marketing" in her official title, uses the sites to promote the library and its events and workshops. The sites also advertise some of the library's services, like instant messaging and chat reference, where librarians provide research assistance and answer questions.

While users might not comment directly on the library's blog, Werhane knows that it is being read, as patrons ask about such resources when they visit the library in person. A post about technology and science-related sites in the virtual world "Second Life" was particularly popular.

This array of online tools helps create a more interactive and customized experience for patrons even when students and professors are not on campus. Engineering students, for instance, spend some time off campus with industry internships, and the library wants to stay accessible to them during that time, Werhane said.

Cost-wise, such outreach and promotion is a relative bargain. The Web sites and pages have all been created using free software and services.

Some of the ideas about reaching patrons came from observing the library's student employees and what Web sites they use, like Facebook. Werhane also keeps tabs on what other libraries are doing in cyberspace. The UW Law Library's WisBlawg, one of the early adopters of the blogging trend among libraries, proved to be a helpful model for the Wendt Library Blog.

Bonnie Shucha, head of reference for the UW Law Library, created WisBlawg in 2004, with the aim of conveying "the things that are in a librarian's head" to anyone interested in Wisconsin law.

"We designed the blog originally to be a service," Shucha said. She posts "things that we hear through the grapevine or just know as librarians, research tips and (information on) how to make people into better legal researchers."

But it's also turned into a useful marketing tool. The site gets about 200 visitors a day, and has an active e-mail subscription list.

"It's increased the reputation of the library among our colleagues," said Shucha. "Now there are over 100 law library blogs, and we were one of the first."

She also maintains a Facebook page, and has put up a profile on a social networking site for lawyers, called Lawbby.

Still, not all librarians are enamored of the online strategy.

"The newer librarians are more excited about it, about the possibilities of reaching out to users," Werhane said, noting that there is a generation gap in terms of who is interested.

Yet even as these tech-savvy librarians try and keep pace with students online, they're still hoping to attract them to the actual building. Werhane believes "there's still a role for a physical place in the mix," where students can interact with someone face-to-face and seek research guidance.

Shucha agreed.

"With the proliferation of electronic resources, yeah, it's at your fingertips, but there's so much of it," she said. "That's where we as librarians come in."

Librarians can help identify and navigate the massive amounts of electronic resources, but they need to reach the patrons first.

"It's definitely a different image for a library," Shucha said. "You don't have to be the stodgy librarian with the bun in the hair. If (patrons) are not going to come to you, you have to come to them."

EPA halts library closures

By Courtney Holliday
First Amendment Center Online intern

After releasing a plan in August 2006 that would restructure its library system and eliminate several locations, the Environmental Protection Agency has halted further closures of the libraries in response to heavy criticism from lawmakers and advocacy groups.

“EPA is in the process of reviewing its methods of delivering library services. No changes are being made in the EPA Library Network at this time; no changes will be made until we have completed stakeholder input and review,” the EPA said in a May 8, 2007, report to the American Library Association.

EPA’s controversial library plan was developed after the Bush administration’s budget for the 2007 fiscal year left the EPA library system, which is funded through the Office of Environmental Information, with just $500,000 for operations.

The plan would eventually close 10 regional libraries and the headquarters library in Washington, D.C. (The Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City and D.C. libraries were shut down before the closures were halted.) The EPA said these closures were part of a plan to modernize their collections by converting them to digital formats. EPA spokespeople said this digitization process would allow the agency to reach a broader audience.

“By modernizing our libraries, EPA is bringing our cutting edge science to your fingertips, whether you live across the street or on the other side of the world,” Deputy Administrator Marcus Peacock said in a Dec. 6 press release.

However, opponents of the plan have reservations about whether the closures are beneficial and whether the digitizing is being handled well.

In her Feb. 6 testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, ALA President and Princeton Public Library Director Leslie Burger raised two concerns with the EPA’s plan for library closure and digitization of the collections.

“In the course of shutting down these libraries, valuable, unique environmental information will be lost or discarded,” she said in her testimony. Burger added that with fewer libraries and staff, “scientists and the public will (also) have limited access to this information. We have a deep concern with limitations these closings would place on the public’s access to EPA library holdings and the public’s ‘right to know.’”

Burger also noted that because current and future equipment compatibility and copyright information, among other factors, have to be considered when digitizing material, the process is slow. However, she said she was especially concerned with the way in which the EPA was handling this process. Materials from the already closed libraries were “dispersed” for digitizing to Research Triangle Park or the National Environmental Publications Internet Site in Cincinnati, but details about how the information was handled were not released. Burger said librarians were concerned that this dispersion may have done long-term damage to the effectiveness of the EPA.

“Unfortunately, there continues to be a lot that we don’t know: exactly what materials are being shipped around the country, whether there are duplicate materials in other EPA libraries, whether these items have been or will be digitized, and whether a record is being kept of what is being dispersed and what is being discarded. We remain concerned that years of research and studies about the environment may be lost forever,” she said.

She noted that overall, there seemed to be no clear plan for the digitization and that the closure of the libraries was done too quickly to evaluate potential concerns.

Despite the concerns raised, the EPA maintains that greater access will be allowed through the online services, and that materials from closed libraries are still available.

“EPA has been establishing a working group of librarians, which includes EPA employees, to ensure the agency’s online library services accomplish our goal of bringing greater access to a broader audience,” EPA Press Officer Suzanne Ackerman told the First Amendment Center. “At the five libraries that no longer have physical space, library services remain available online or through interlibrary loans.”

The EPA acknowledges that the process is complicated and that assessment is needed. Speaking to the Special Libraries Association, Mike Flynn, EPA deputy director of the Office of Information Analysis and Access, reiterated the EPA’s goal of eventually providing a national unified data system for EPA staff, scientists and the community at large but reminded the audience that the changes will be painful and do not happen overnight.

In his speech Flynn discussed the misperceptions about the EPA’s library network recreation, explaining that the changes will enable more efficient distribution of information, especially in the future as more employees become accustomed to working with electronic forms. While correcting misperceptions, however, he says that the agency’s current review of the library network will allow it to determine whether or not the plan should be altered to completely meet future needs.

The EPA did not have much time to respond to initial criticism of its plan. Shortly after the plan was unveiled last fall, Reps. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.), Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), and John Dingell (D-Mich.) requested in a Sept. 19 letter that the Government Accountability Office investigate the cuts. The GAO granted the request and in November began a review, which remains in progress, of the EPA’s actions.

Under pressure from members of Congress and groups such as the ALA, the EPA announced in January that it would not close additional libraries until more public outreach was done, according to the Library Journal.

In a Jan. 12 letter to House Committee Chairmen Gordon (Science and Technology), Dingell (Energy and Commerce), Waxman (Oversight and Government Reform), and James Oberstar (D-Minn.) (Transportation and Infrastructure), EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson agreed to a 90-day moratorium on both the closure of additional EPA libraries and disposal after digitization of EPA library materials.

Shortly after, on Feb. 6, Johnson testified before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and said that the EPA would close no more libraries and would not dispose of any documents.

The library system is home to more than 350,000 reports, books, technical journals, audiotapes and videotapes, along with 50,000 primary-source documents not available anywhere else. A 2004 EPA Library Report, “Business Case for Information Services,” said librarians in the system saved EPA staff more than 214,566 hours of research time that year. In addition to providing the agency’s staff with information, the library system serves the public as an access point to EPA information regarding environmental health hazards, technologies, regulations and litigation. The EPA and other government agencies are required, with few exceptions, to make information and records available for the public under the Freedom of Information Act.

The EPA chief information officer issued an interim library policy on April 16 that explains the library network’s responsibilities and governance. External stakeholders such as scientists, researchers and attorneys who use the library’s resources, will review draft procedures developed by EPA library managers on library usage statistics and dispersion procedures, and an independent third party will review the EPA’s draft digitization procedures. Digitization expert Cathy Hartmann of the University of North Texas, will advise the agency in its procedures and techniques at the suggestion of the ALA. While digitization is occurring, physical materials will not be discarded until the procedures are fully reviewed.

Gordon, Dingell, Waxman and Oberstar, in an April 26 letter to EPA administrator Johnson, requested that “all EPA libraries and library materials be preserved intact until the [GAO] investigation is completed and EPA undertakes an appropriate public process (including consultation with Congress) to decide whether and how to proceed with a library modernization process.” In the letter, they refer to the investigation’s tentative findings as revealing what was originally a “severely flawed library closure planning process.”

The EPA will participate in several external conferences over the summer to exchange information and receive further advice from stakeholders, including exhibiting at the June ALA meeting.

Courtney Holliday is a junior majoring in economics and public policy at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Bookshelves for the Surreal Library

posted by Great Western Dragon
Thursday June 14, @11:16AM

Building one of those new fangled libraries with all the fancy architecture and more glass than a crystal palace? Well then, bucko, you'll need some shelves won't you? And if you're going for the surreal, cantilevered, looks like it'll fall down at any minute look, you'll want some matching shelves.

Gravity shelves to the rescue! Or perhaps you'd be interested in a more mathematical iteration?

Libraries offer more services to homeless

Public libraries, long a daytime sanctuary for homeless people, increasingly are offering services targeted to them.

"The broader mission of the library is a very welcoming one," says Jane Salisbury, supervisor of library outreach services at Multnomah County Library in Portland, Ore.

Libraries are shelters from cold and heat, she says, but homeless people also go there because "people are there to serve them."

Services vary:

•In Washington, D.C., the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library has begun seminars about library resources and health care services for the homeless. The library plans to offer music appreciation and arts classes to homeless patrons.

•Jacksonville Public Library teaches Internet use to homeless job-seekers.

•The Free Library of Philadelphia pays homeless people to work as bathroom attendants at the central library.

•The San Francisco Public Library has two part-time staffers who refer the homeless to housing and mental health agencies.

•The Los Angeles Public Library has a five-day summer camp for homeless children. In July, a magician, mime, musician and storyteller will perform and teach.

•Volunteers take children from homeless shelters to New York Public Library branches for monthly story time sessions.

Daniel Kibler, reference librarian at the Jacksonville Public Library, who teaches the computer course, says his part-time role as a social worker is more challenging and emotional than his usual duties.

Four years ago, Kibler helped a homeless man in his 50s complete an online application for a job at a grocery store. The man didn't know how to use a computer mouse, Kibler says. He left the reference desk to help him four or five times.

"We try to do the best we can with the time we have," he says. "When someone is honestly trying to improve themselves and you don't have time, you feel particularly helpless."

Nancy Huntley, director of the Lincoln Library in Springfield, Ill., says services for the homeless are outside the scope of a librarian's job. "Our role is just to provide books and information," she says.

Accommodating homeless patrons without alienating others can be a challenge, librarians say.

Richard Parker of the Tulsa City-County Library, says visitors have complained about people panhandling, staring or saying inappropriate things to children.

Sanford Berman, founder of the American Library Association's Hunger, Homelessness and Poverty Task Force, says others complain about patrons' grooming. Libraries such as the Dallas Public Library have hygiene rules. Berman says they must be administered evenly.

"That kind of rule should be equally applied to a suburban matron doused in perfume," he says.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Two Days Without Dewey

posted by Great Western Dragon

The Perry Branch of the Maricopa County Library District generated tonnes of buzz recently because they're not using the traditional Dewey Decimal System, opting instead to go with a "neighbourhood" set up more in tune with a bookstore. I spent two days working this new and innovative branch. If you got the interest in what's happening in a Deweyless branch, read on. Full disclosure: I work for MCLD.

Opening a new branch library is not a thing to be taken lightly. After all, you're unleashing something onto the community, a time bomb of knowledge paid for by the taxes of a populace. With luck, the populace welcomes you with open arms, otherwise you get to hear people whine about taxes. So when you do this thing, you better be right.

But when you do something different, something no one ever attempted, you better make damn sure you know what you're doing. For instance, if you open a public library and forgo the use of the Dewey Decimal System, your instinct better be razor keen to the will of the patrons.

As to the will of the library community at large, screw that. Librarians, as a whole, are slow to change certain things. We readily adopt new technologies, and then vigourously apply them to centuries old methods of doing things. Whoever said that the more things change the more they stay the same must have done time in a library. We utilize all of our shiny new tech to automate a antiquated system. The DDC is over 130 years old, biased, and confusing to patrons. For those who think it isn't, try getting a patron to care about it. Melvil designed the system for librarians, and the system makes some sense to librarians.

To the patrons, it's anathema.

Or at least this is what the Maricopa County Library District banks on by opening the Perry Branch Library, a combination of a public and school library wholly abandoning the use of Dewey organization. I spent sixteen hours at Perry, working side by side with the staff during their opening days. My expertise covers Polaris ILS, the Class cash management software, public library circulation, and library technologies. I manage the Circ Department at the Southeast Regional Library, also a part of the Marciopa County system. We are library people of the highest order, pushing through day after day at the District's biggest and busiest branch. Because of this, my staff and I trained many of the people now working the Perry Branch. They too are library folk, our siblings.

The last two days marked their “soft opening†with a grand opening to be held later this month. Patron tensions ran high at Southeast Regional over the last few weeks. Many live out in that developing area of Gilbert, Arizona and the Perry Branch sits closer to a great number of our patrons. So it came as no shock to me that, a few minutes before opening the Deweyless library, a small group idled outside the great glass sliding doors, peering in and waiting.

Things remained on the task list even as branch manager Jennifer Miele unlocked the doors and welcomed our first patrons. Some shelves weren't yet fully organized. While all the sections stood completed, they weren't all in alphabetical order. The 3M SmartCheck and five bin sorter were offline due to connectivity problems. We let patrons know of these small issues as they entered. Their response was incredibly casual. Word got out long ago that the District arranged this library in a decidedly non-traditional sense. It's a library for the Chandler School District in the Town of Gilbert operated by Maricopa County. They expected strangeness.

Almost all the shelves in the library are shorter than the average library shelf. You can easily see from one end of the branch to the other. Laser printed signs designated areas of interest from Fiction to Mystery to Science to Art and beyond. The only thing detracting from a true bookstore atmosphere is the lack of a coffee shop. Patrons immediately began doing what MCLD Administrators assumed they would, they browsed. They looked everything over. We assisted them by locating items when they were unsure of a location, but the overall customer attitude was that this works.

A gentleman asked me for a book on dog breeds. When I escorted him over to the section dealing in Pets, he felt embarrassed. Not so because he didn't think to look there, but because he'd missed the sign. We had exactly what he was after. Other patrons mentioned that, despite the as yet un-alphabetized sections, they had no problems finding anything. Books on Astronomy were in the Science section. Patrons located their books about drawing on the Art shelves.

In short, they understood. They knew where things were by the subject signs taped to the shelves. (Better signs are on the way.) They happily made use of the self checkouts. By day two, the self check-in purred along and handled returns. We saw teens return the second day for the computers and the manga in the Teen Room. The main complaint: get the shelves alphabetized.

They're working on it.

Since the library also services the newly constructed Perry High School, they expect an explosion in circulation come the beginning of the school year. Believe it, bucko, they'll give Southeast Regional a run for the money. As it was, for a 28,000 square foot library, an opening day circulation of over 910 wasn't bad. Not bad at all especially when you consider that it was a soft opening without too much hoopla.

Patron response is positive and the staff is upbeat and ready to rock. As it stands, this will work.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Prisons ban books over fear of radicals

"Inmates at the federal prison camp in Otisville, N.Y., were stunned by what they saw at the chapel library on Memorial Day — hundreds of books had disappeared from the shelves. Three inmates at Otisville filed a lawsuit over the policy, saying their Constitutional rights were violated. They say all religions were affected."

Public Libraries Provide Impressive ROI, says study

posted by Jaclyn_McKewan

According to a study conducted in 2006 by the University of North Carolina's School of Information and Library Science, b>Pennsylvania taxpayers receive a return of $5.50 for every $1 they invest in public libraries. You can read the rest of the article here or read the full study here. The article mentioned that this is part of a state-by-state study, but did not say whether any other states were currently being studied.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

NARA seeks help in taking archives online Government resourcecenter White papers, case studies, vendor information, webinars Business BPM CXOs Columns Columnists Defense

BY Ben Bain
Published on June 5, 2007

As part of an effort to bolster online access to its documents, the National Archives and Records Administration is looking for a small business to help it improve the digitization and scanning capabilities of its Archives II site in College Park, Md.

NARA wants the contractor to supply and install new computers and the accompanying server and software. It also wants the company to train the staff on the new systems and provide maintenance for at least one year, possibly as long as three years.

The new workstations must meet all industry standards and be integrated with equipment that NARA’s Special Media Preservation Laboratory uses. In addition to supplying computers, the winner will also have to supply digital camera systems that include book cradles and scanners with varying specifications.

The contract is open to all companies that qualify as small businesses under the North American Industry Classification System. NARA said it could hire more than one company to do different parts of the job and that the contract will go to the bidder with the lowest-priced, technically acceptable offer.

All the specifics are available online at the Federal Business Opportunities Web site.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Coeur d'Alene parents look to restrict access to certain books

Checking out a copy of "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou may require more than a library card in the Coeur d'Alene School District if some parents have their way. Some parents say the book, along with five others, should require parental permission for students to read them. On Monday night the school board is taking a closer look at the books in question and its policies in checking out certain books.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Inside an outsourced library

posted by Blake

In September 2006, the city of Redding, two hours south of Medford on Interstate 5, decided to outsource the running of the three libraries in Shasta County to Library Systems and Services LLC (known by the acronym LSSI). Shasta County has struggled for decades to try to keep libraries open and has gone through financial downturns similar to what Jackson County faced leading up to the closure of all 15 branches here on April 6.

Librarian Gabe Burke said everyone was offered a job either at the city or at the library. He said that in working with LSSI he doesn't live with the annual fear that he may lose his job. Also, he could transfer within the company if he wanted. "I almost feel more secure with LSSI," he said. Burke said his salary is similar to what he was getting previously and his benefits are comparable. "I'm not losing any money," he said.

Inmate finds transcribing books for blind 'gratifying'

posted by Blake

The Tucson Citizen Has A Look at some inmates doing some good. Eleven inmates in the Winchester Unit, which houses sex offenders, are involved in the program, said correctional officer Eric Douglass, who supervises the program. So far this year, Douglass said, the inmates have transcribed 53 books - 35,107 pages in Braille - and proofread 41 books - 30,643 pages in Braille. Inmates volunteer for the program, but there are few openings because of space limitations and because it's one of the most-coveted jobs for inmates. It's indoors and pays 50 cents an hour - top pay in prison. But it's not easy.

Vote for Video That Best Expresses 'Love of Libraries'

posted by leo
Tuesday June 05

The five best videos have been selected and the public has till June 11 to vote on which video best expresses a "love of libraries" in this contest sponsored by Gale.

Called "I Love My Library", the contest has a prize of $10,000 that will go half to the lucky winner and half to the lucky winner's library. 177 original videos, all under 2 minutes, were submitted to Gale's "Librareo Group" on YouTube.

You can view the five finalists and vote on your favorite by going to Gale's own "Librareo Page". The grand winner will be announced on June 24th at ALA.

Monday, June 04, 2007

NPR Science Friday segment on digital libraries - UPDATED

Update: Google has stated that
they don't do exclusive scanning deals with university libraries.

Last Friday, NPR's Science Friday featured a fascinating debate on digital libraries with Brewster Kahle of the Internet Archive, Michael Hart of Project Gutenberg, and Michael Keller of Stanford's library (Keller is working with Google on its library scanning project).

The real meaty part of the discussion is in Brewster's call for a book-search that works like web-search. Google's otherwise laudable book-search program is marred by an indefensibly greedy mistake: Google won't let anyone get bulk access to the public domain works in its index, not even for scholarly purposes -- and Google won't let its university partners do deals with any of Google's competitors.

Web-search benefited because anyone was allowed to index it. If the first company to index web-pages had insisted that the sites in its index shut out the competition, Google wouldn't even exist, and we'd all be searching with Lycos. Google has been the immense beneficiary of an open field for search, and it's that field that Google is seeking to foreclose in the book search world.

I am a huge supporter of the ethic of indexing books, but Brewster is right to call Google out on this. For a company whose motto is "don't be evil," it's pretty outrageous to set out to strangle competition in book search in its cradle. MP3 Link

posted by Cory Doctorow

Sunday, June 03, 2007

ARGENTINA: A Library Per Household

by Marcela Valente
May 31

A novel programme aimed at fomenting a reading habit among low-income sectors was launched in Argentina: the "Books and Houses" campaign will deliver a bookshelf complete with 18 volumes to each affordable housing unit assigned to families this year through government assistance plans.

The books were carefully selected by a team of experts in education and literature, coordinated by officials at the Secretariat of Culture. More than 70 percent of the works were specially published for the programme, which plans to distribute a total of 80,000 bookshelves to 800 districts and towns around the country.

"They're beautiful books," Sandra Ruiz, who lives in Añatuya, a town in the northwestern province of Santiago del Estero, told IPS. "There's poetry, fables, stories and practical manuals."

The programme began by delivering the bookshelves to 70 homes in Añatuya, where 27 percent of the 20,000 local residents have either no formal schooling or did not complete primary school.

The next area to be targeted by the programme is the Buenos Aires suburb of San Isidro, where affluent neighbourhoods coexist alongside six slums that are being upgraded with the construction of new low-cost housing.

"We have the houses, but we don't have the books yet," a woman named Chira told IPS in San Isidro.

Ruiz, a teacher in Añatuya and mother of five children between the ages of eight and 16, moved into a new two-bedroom house from the Federal Planning Ministry. She and her husband will begin to pay it off in affordable instalments six months from now. "My daughter has already taken one of the books to school, she's so proud," she said.

"We already had a few books, so this expands our library. But for many people in the neighbourhood, this is the first time that they have a book in their house," added Ruiz.

The idea emerged as an initiative of Argentina's Culture Secretary José Nun. "When they start school, children from better-off families are at an enormous advantage over kids who come from needy homes, because they have already had contact with books," said the official.

"We hope the occupants of the new housing units will consult and read their new books, and that they will also try to continue to fill up the bookshelves. That is why the shelves have empty spaces, so their owners can fill them with books of their own choice," Nun said this month at the project's launch.

The plan is to distribute 1.4 million books, to reach around half a million people, with the aim of fighting the low reading level noted in a government study last year.

The report pointed out that although reading levels increased 19 percent between 2004 and 2006, nearly 44 percent of those surveyed said they had not read a single book over the past year, in many cases citing lack of access as the reason.

While the central goal of the new programme is to make books available to children in order to help them acquire a reading habit, the volumes that were chosen are for the entire family.

They include history books, dictionaries, literature for adults and children, and practical manuals on different subjects.

The children's literature texts include classics, stories and novels by local authors, and contemporary works. In addition, there is a book of short stories and poems, and a new edition of Oscar Wilde's "The Happy Prince" illustrated by Argentine artists.

For adults, there are works by Argentine authors like Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar and Osvaldo Soriano, classics by U.S. writers like Edgar Allan Poe and Mark Twain, and short stories by Uruguayan writer Horacio Quiroga.

The collection also includes a book of poetry by 17 Argentine authors, such as Alfonsina Storni and Juan Gelman, and another containing lyrics of rock, pop, folk and tango songs.

Also provided are a pocket encyclopaedic dictionary with maps and illustrations, and a basic Spanish language dictionary accompanied by a guide explaining how to use it. In addition, there is a copy of the constitution and a text on national history from 1810 to 2000.

At the request of President Néstor Kirchner, who has taken a proactive stance on human rights issues during his administration, the bookshelves include a special version of "Nunca Más" (Never Again), the 1984 report by the National Commission on the Disappearance of Persons.

The report contains testimony by survivors, witnesses and participants about the gross human rights violations committed during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship.

Another novel aspect are the manuals. One, on "Legal First Aid", is the only one of its kind published in Argentina. It was drawn up by a team of 20 experts, many of whom belong to the non-governmental organisation Centre of Implementation of Public Policies for Equality and Growth.

The book lists the economic, social and cultural rights of people and families, and provides information on access to justice, alternative conflict resolution methods, and public offices to turn to for legal aid.

Another manual, drawn up with the participation of the National Council for Women, targets adolescent and adult women. Laid out in a format of basic questions and answers, it addresses concerns about sexual and reproductive health, rights, domestic violence and labour.

Also included is a book containing guidelines on child nutrition, which underscores the benefits of nursing, the importance of making sure that children wash their hands before eating, and how to provide a child with a healthy, balanced diet in the first years of life.

Other volumes are a practical guide on looking for work, becoming self-employed, or setting up a microenterprise or small company; a first aid manual; and a manual on household work and management, with tips and practical advice on how to use the public services and how to make basic household repairs.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Lockers may be installed for Lincoln Library homeless

Published Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The city of Springfield could announce within days a plan for where the Lincoln Library homeless people can keep their possessions, Mayor Tim Davlin said Tuesday.

“Things have been in the works, and we’re hoping that maybe by the end of this week, we’re going to have a solution to some of the clothing and the boxes and things that are outside the library,” Davlin told reporters, who were at the library for a news conference on a different subject.

“We’re hoping to have some resolution, if not by this Friday, probably by Monday of next week.”

Davlin said the plan is basically “just installing lockers inside a pod.”

“We’re working out some of the logistics about exactly where it’s going to be put and … more about liability issues,” the mayor said.

He said he doesn’t anticipate any changes to security around the library, even if the number of homeless people staying there goes down.

A varying group amounting to dozen or so homeless people frequent the library, sleeping under its overhang at night and leaving their bedrolls and other possessions on planters along the building’s north side during the day.

“Security is the same … today as it will be a week from now,” Davlin said. “If in fact there aren’t as many people hanging around here, we’re not going to do anything less about security. … We’ll wait and see what happens with the groups of individuals that still decide just to hang around here.”

Attention was focused anew on the issue of homeless people living around the library last week, after Ward 2 Ald. Gail Simpson was attacked outside the nearby municipal complex. Simpson wasn’t hurt. Her alleged attacker, 23-year-old Christopher Williams, was arrested, and a judge last week ordered a psychiatric evaluation.

Davlin said Tuesday he did not think the attack on Simpson was related to the problem of homeless people at the library.

“I think it was really more of an issue with one individual,” he said.

Agencies have been interviewing people staying at the library and seeking to match them up with services, the mayor added.

“Quite a few … have been removed,” he said. “I don’t know the exact numbers, but I know of probably at least a dozen individuals who have sought help, have received the help and are no longer here (at the library). And they were here just a couple of months ago.”

As for creating an alternative place for the homeless to stay, Davlin said, “We’re hoping to at least make some kind of a temporary announcement, maybe by the middle or end of this week also.”

Simpson said she has “met extensively” since the attack with the mayor’s executive assistant, Jim Donelan, and Sandy Robinson, the city’s community relations director, to be brought up to date on city actions involving the homeless.

Something should have been done sooner, Simpson said, but she is satisfied that progress finally is being made.

She also said she thinks there was a link between her attacker and the library homeless.

“It’s my understanding that he has, on a number of occasions, been down there and created some problems with those individuals who are down there,” Simpson said.

If the other homeless people had not been at the library already, those encounters would not have occurred, she said.

Bernard Schoenburg can be reached at 788-1540 or