Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Librarian works to save Iraq’s books, archives

LOCAL SUPPORT Gail Walker, district librarian for Carrollton Exempted Schools, is working to raise awareness of the dangerous conditions for librarians in Iraq. Walker has been corresponding with Saad Eskander, director of Iraq’s National Library and Archives, which have been nearly destroyed in the war.


Gail Walker, district librarian for Carrollton Exempted Schools, is working to raise awareness of the dangerous conditions for librarians in Iraq. Walker has been corresponding with Saad Eskander, director of Iraq’s National Library and Archives, which have been nearly destroyed in the war.

Gail Walker likens the destruction of Iraq’s National Library and Archives to the obliteration of the Library of Congress, or the Smithsonian Institution.

Walker, district librarian for Carrollton Exempted Village Schools for 25 years, is on a mission to bring attention to the plight of a distant colleague, Saad Eskander, director of the Iraq National Library and Archives.

“I wanted to send out a ‘message in a bottle’ of sorts,” she said.

Prior to the war, archeologists and historians expressed concern over the safekeeping of Iraq’s archives. Walker said 60 percent of the nation’s library materials and 25 percent of its archives have been stolen.

Walker said she fears that Eskander, a Kurd who once fought against Saddam Hussein, could be killed for his efforts. Eskander fled to Great Britain when the Kurds were defeated, but returned when Saddam was deposed.

Walker said Eskander is trying to “fight the insurgents with culture,” but that he’s caught between the insurgents and the Iraqi National Army.


Until July, Eskander maintained an online journal detailing his attempts to restore the facility, which has been repeatedly looted, ransacked and shelled since 2003.

Walker said her interest and concern were spurred by Alia Muhammad Baker, a librarian in Basra, Iraq, who was featured in the New York Times in July 2003, and is the subject of a real-life children’s book, “The Librarian of Basra” by Jeanette Winter. Just prior to the war, Baker removed the books from Basra’s library and stored them for safekeeping.

“I felt I did the worst thing possible, in that I didn’t do anything,” Walker said. She eventually wrote to Baker and received a postcard in return, but the two haven’t been in contact since 2005. In 2006, Walker heard through a “librarians’ grapevine” about Askander’s online journal. In March, the two began an e-mail correspondence.

“It’s absolutely incredible,” she said. “It soon became apparent that the situation is much, much worse. There’s not one page that doesn’t leave your heart broken. We don’t always think of these people as people with lives and families and children. We hear about 50 getting killed; they’re numbers to us.”

Walker said libraries are important because they are repositories of information and the one place where people can find equality.

“Democracy has to begin with culture,” she said. “The Iraq military is trying to maintain order, so culture falls at the bottom, but for him (Eskander), it’s at the heart. If Iraq is going to become a nation again, culture has to be at the bottom of it.”

What you can do

Walker, who opposed the war from the outset, urges Americans to contact their elected representatives.

“So much has been taken from these people already, through Saddam, the fighting factions and war,” she said. “We have a moral obligation to help them restore it.”

To read Eskander’s journal, visit the British Library’s Web site at: www.bl.uk

Walker may be contacted at:


Library workers refuse to be quiet in equal-pay fight

Five weeks into strike, Vancouver employees mix helpfulness, resolve on city's picket lines
Aug 25, 2007 04:30 AM

Western Canada Bureau Chief

Vancouver–You can take the librarians out of the library, but you can't stop them from knowing the answers to your questions.

On the picket lines for the first time in their 77-year history, Vancouver library workers have turned their knowledge into a one-stop information booth for tourists and residents.

"Just keep going four blocks down this street. The Chapters is on your left," picket captain Peter DeGroot advised one slightly lost pedestrian this week.

"The bus stop is on that side."

As the five-week-long strike drags through the dog days of August, the city's library workers are taking a stand and answering questions while walking the picket line.

With wi-fi and cellphones, library workers have been giving out directions to tourists and answering queries about books, public washrooms and bus schedules. For anyone needing a fix of reading materials, library workers have also set up their own book bin.

Alex Youngberg, president of CUPE local 391, said library workers weren't sure what to do on the picket lines at first.

"The resolve is even stronger than it was in the beginning because there is a realization that we just finally had enough," she said. "It irritates us to no end that we have to beg for pay equity."

Library workers, who like other striking civic workers have been out since July 26, have received an offer of 17.5 per cent in wage increases over five years.

After two weeks of no talking, the city offered contracts Thursday to the union representing the 2,500 striking inside workers.

"Everybody wants this strike to end as soon as possible," said city spokesperson Tom Timm. He said the city wants the strike over by Labour Day, Sept. 3.

The union put a statement out on its website yesterday, saying the bargaining team had gone through the two different offers and contacted the city to explore reopening talks.

For the library workers, the contentious issue remains pay equity.

Simon Fraser University political science professor Marjorie Griffin Cohen said a starting salary for a library worker in Vancouver is $27,000, while a labourer working for the city starts at $43,000.

"The union in this case has a very good argument that because the province does not have pay-equity legislation, it's up to the union to negotiate it," she said. "What the library workers are arguing is they're not paid well and they're claiming this entry-level wage is below the poverty line."

The difference between Toronto and Vancouver, said Laura Safarian, a librarian at Vancouver's main downtown branch, is that Ontario has pay-equity legislation, while British Columbia does not.

The library workers want a point system in place that rewards them for their education and skills. Many entry-level workers coming into the municipal library system have master's degrees, but are paid less than entry-level labourers hired by the city who need only a high school diploma.

In Toronto, entry-level library workers earn $7 an hour more than they do in Vancouver, a fact management does not dispute. Police and firefighters also earn more money in Toronto than in Vancouver.

"Why do we have to be punished for being educated?" Safarian said. "Society values strength and the ability to shovel more than they value literacy skills and information technology skills."

The city's chief librarian, Paul Whitney, said education is only one factor in determining pay rates.

The difficulty in creating a job evaluation system that compares different positions to worth is that it comes down to a subjective process, Whitney said.

In Regina, where library workers were on strike for two months and pay equity was one of the issues raised, Allan Kozachuk with the Regina Public Library said there was an agreement to review the issue.

Four years later, Kozachuk, who works in human resources, said the library and its workers are now at the point of finalizing the plan. "The next step is to meet collectively and start looking at implementing the new plan and hopefully resolving the pay-equity issue," he said.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Into a new world of librarianship

Sharpen these skills for Librarian 2.0

One of the principles I would add to the Library 2.0 meme is that “the Library is human” because it makes the library a social and emotionally engaging center for learning and experience. Librarian 2.0, then, is the “strategy guide” for helping users find information, gather knowledge and create content. The most important traits of Librarian 2.0 include:

Librarians 2.0 plans for their users This librarian bases all planning and proposals for services, materials and outreach on user needs and wants. User-centered libraries breakdown barriers and allow users access wherever they are: home, work, commuting, school, or at the library. This involves users from the get go in planning and launching services based on their needs. This librarian asks what new technologies or new materials users need. This librarian proposes building projects and involves users in designing those places. This librarian does not create policies and procedures that impede users’ access to the library. This librarian tells users how resources and funds will be expended. Decisions and plans are discussed in open forums and comments are answered. This makes the library transparent.

Librarian 2.0 embraces Web 2.0 tools This librarian recognizes how services might be enhanced by the Read/Write web and how new services might be born in a climate of collaboration. This librarian uses Instant Messaging to meet users in their space online, builds Weblogs and wikis as resources to further the mission of the library, and mashes up content via API (Application Program Interface) to build useful Web sites. A Google map mash up of local libraries created by Chicago librarians is one such instance of building tools via new resources. Other librarians creating MySpace profiles and participating in other thriving communities build connections online where their users live.

Librarian 2.0 controls technolust This librarian does not buy technology for the sake of technology. “Techno-worship” does not exist here. Without a firm foundation in the mission and goals of the institution, new technologies are not implemented for the sake of coolness and status. Technology is put to the test: Does it meet the users need in a new or improved way? Does it create a useful service for putting users together with the information and experience they seek? These are some of the questions this librarian asks when planning for technology. This librarian creates and nurtures a living, breathing technology plan.

Librarian 2.0 makes good, yet fast decisions This librarian recognizes how quickly the world and library users change with advancing technology. Project timelines that stretch on for months simply do not work in Library 2.0 thinking. Perpetual beta works well for the library’s Web presence. This librarian redesigns for ease of use, user involvement and easily added/re-configured pieces. This librarian brings evidence to the table for planning sessions and decision making, such as recent studies from Pew, articles from professional and scholarly journals and a synthesis of on topic postings from the biblioblogosphere.

Librarian 2.0 is a trendspotter This librarian seeks out information and news that may impact future services. This librarian has read the OCLC Pattern Recognition and User Perception reports and uses them in planning. This librarian uses the Cluetrain Manifesto and realizes that networked markets are library users as well and that honest, human conversations need to take place within their institution, virtually and in physical space. This librarian reads outside the profession and watches for the impact of technology on users and new thinking on business, because it is, in fact, related.

Librarian 2.0 gets content This librarian understands that the future of libraries will be guided by how users access, consume and create content. Content is a conversation as well and librarians should participate. Users will create their own mash ups, remixes and original expressions and should be able to do so at the library or via the library’s resources. This librarian will help users become their own programming director for all of the content available to them.

Librarian 2.0 also listens to staff and users when planning, tells the stories of successes and failures, learns from both, celebrates those successes, allows staff time to play and learn, and never stops dreaming about the best library services.

A library catalog built using the MyLibrary software

posted by Blake on Tuesday August 21 Eric Lease Morgan has created a simple and traditional library catalog of about 300,000 items using the MyLibrary software. From the about page:
This is an index of just less than 300,000 MARC records -- a traditional library catalog. MARC records were downloaded from the Library of Congress. MARC data was cross-walked to MyLibrary (Dublin Core) fields and imported. The content of the MyLibrary database was indexed with Kinosearch and made accessible via an SRU interface. Search results sport cover art from Amazon.com. If reviews exist, then they can be read. Users can to view the full MARC records in tagged, MARCXML, and MODS formats. Users can create accounts for themselves and have items (virtually) delivered to them.
The implementation is not necessarily intended to be a production service but rather exists to demonstrate what can be done with MyLibrary -- an open source digital library framework & toolbox.

Low-tech solution enhances library book access


The Hants Journal


A new method of service delivery will have some residents rushing to their mailboxes this fall.

On Sept. 4 the Annapolis Valley Regional Library (AVRL) will launch “Books by Mail”, a free library outreach service. The program is designed to assist seniors and other patrons who find getting to their local library a challenge.

Users of the program can pre-register and then order their favourite reads by phone, online or mail. Books are sent directly to the user for free, with return postage paid.

“Because we live in such a rural area and have such a broad database, it makes sense to provide a service that’s accessible,” says Books By Mail (BBM) clerk Wendy Kearns.

Kearns said the service will reach more then just seniors and is available to anyone who meets the criteria laid out in the program. Patrons with mobility issues and/or families without access to a vehicle will be able to receive library books in their homes.

To be eligible, users must be residents of the Annapolis Valley and live more than 10km away from a library or who are unable physically to visit a branch.

Funding for the program became available when one of two bookmobiles was retired this spring. “The bookmobile was just too old and needed too many repairs,” Kearns said. So rather than invest in a new one, monies were directed toward BBM instead.

“The service has been very popular, very successful in other regions so that’s the direction we want to go,” Kearns said.

With technology so predominant, BBM is a very low-tech solution. “Imagine how exciting it’ll be to get mail again,” Kearns said.

Ensures access for rural patrons

Municipal Councillor Shirley Pineo chairs the AVRL board and says BBM is a great idea for residents in her area. “It’s especially good for someone who is disabled or sick at home and just wants something to read.”

She said also that since some of the mobile runs have been cut, it’s important that rural patrons still have access.

Kearns said the dimensions of some mailboxes could be an issue because if the books are too large, they may end up at the post office instead. “The size of the mailbox might determine how many books we can send at one time or how large a book will fit.”

That information will be important when registering for BBM. As well, users don’t have to order specific books; they can note preferences when they register and library staff will send out a selection.

The books will be mailed directly from the AVRL headquarters in Bridgetown, but registration forms can be picked up and dropped off at local branches.

There are no fines for overdue material, however, Kearns said in that instance no further books would be mailed until the others are returned.

For more information on this service call 1-866-922-0229 or e-mail booksbymail@nsar.kibrary.ns.ca or follow the link at www.valleylibrary.ca.

Sony Reader targets book lovers

Sony is trying to do for e-books what Apple has done for downloadable digital music.

It has launched a handheld device designed for electronic books- dubbed the Sony Reader - at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

It has a screen made from electronic paper that makes text look almost as sharp as it is on a printed page.

Sony hopes the gadget will tempt more people to download and read books in digital, rather than paper, format.

Electronic ink

E-books have not made much of an impact as the experience of reading on-screen has failed to live up to expectations. As a result although sales of e-books are growing they still account for only a tiny fraction of the overall book market.

Display: 15cm diagonally
Battery life: 7,500 pages before recharge
Formats: BBeB/PDF/JPEG/MP3
Size: 175mm x 124mm x 14mm
Weight: 250g

The electronics giant aims to address this with the electronic paper used for the display in the Sony Reader. It says the six-inch black and white screen will be as easy to read as the printed page.

The technology used means the screen is not backlit, avoiding screen flicker, which can put a strain on the eyes.

The device's display uses technology developed by US-based firm E-Ink which works by electronically arranging thousands of tiny black and white capsules to form characters.

"In recent years millions of people have become comfortable downloading and enjoying digital media, including e-books," said Ron Hawkins of Sony Electronics.

"But until now, there has not been a good device on which to read."

Publishers onboard

The Reader is about the size of a paperback, is 14mm thick at its widest and weighs little more than 250g.

Sony Reader, BBC
The slim device is the size of a paperback book
It will go on sale in the spring and is expected to sell for between $300 and $400 in the US.

Sony has realised the importance of making sure there is good content for a gadget like this.

It has done deals with major publishers, including Random House, Penguin and HarperCollins, to sell digital e-books via its Connect online store.

This is similar to what Apple has done with its iTunes music store, which effectively created the market for digital music downloads.

But Sony faces a number of challenges.

This is the second time the Japanese electronics giant has tested the waters with an e-book reader.

In 2004 it launched a similar device called the Librie in Japan, which failed to take off due to its high price and the restrictions it imposed on readers.

Additionally other companies are also working on devices using the same E Ink technology. And some are working on flexible electronic paper displays that can be rolled up.

Monday, August 20, 2007

On the books, an embarrassment of riches

By Maria Panaritis

AVALON, N.J. - The summer lineup at the public library in this high-end Jersey Shore town reads like a Kimmel Center glossy:

"Ballroom Dancing Class for Children - Ages 7 and Up"

"Author - Sara Paretsky"

"The Bay-Atlantic Symphony Beethoven Bash Concert"

The dry-mounted, foam-backed event posters alone cost more than library director Norman Gluckman ever spent on literacy tutors at his old gig in down-on-its-luck Millville, 40 miles inland. It's the kind of cash flow that could make a poor-town librarian cry.

"We have a very robust summer program," he said, perhaps unaware of the understatement of Avalon's good fortune.

And yet town leaders here and in neighboring Ocean City are singing the blues precisely because their libraries are in the black. They say the extravagant Shore real estate market, combined with an age-old state law requiring that a fixed percentage of local taxes go to libraries, has created piles of unspendable cash.

They want policy makers in Trenton to tweak the regulations of the law - regarded by some as one of the nation's most progressive - so that they can transfer surplus bucks away from books and onto the municipal ledger.

"You're raising more than you need," Avalon business administrator Andy Bednarek said. The value of taxable real estate here has tripled to $8.6 billion since 2004.

As a result, Avalon will collect $13.3 million in property taxes this year - $2.3 million of which will go to the library.

In Ocean City, where taxable real estate is at $13 billion, officials estimate a library surplus of more than $4 million. After some is set aside for a planned library expansion, the town would like state permission to give back what's left to taxpayers, Mayor Sal Perillo said.

"We need to have a mechanism to have the surplus beyond that amount to be returned to the municipality," said Perillo, who has been at the table with state officials, library and municipal lobbyists, and Avalon officials since January.

The law requires that one-third of a mill of real estate taxes, or $33 on a $100,000 home, be set aside for the library.

State Librarian Norma Blake supports a compromise in the rules for Shore towns, but she and library advocates across New Jersey warn: Even one loophole could weaken the 120-year-old law, which has been a beacon to library advocates nationwide.

The law has long been in the sights of penny-wise local politicians because it prohibits them from doing what is common in places like Philadelphia: slashing library budgets to pay for fire trucks, potholes and patronage perks.

"This is a fail-safe," Blake said.

But even the most well-meaning and enduring law can end up doing strange things.

Just take Norman Gluckman's ride from Millville to Avalon and see for yourself.


Miles of farms and pine groves turned to specks in the rearview mirror last summer as Gluckman's gray Toyota throttled toward the Atlantic coast and his new job as director of the Avalon Free Public Library.

Thoughts of hardscrabble Millville faded as Avalon came into view. The used-up glass factory, the sputtering aeronautics plant, the bicycles stolen from children at the library where he used to be in charge - all of that was history.

And then reality hit like a gold-plated hammer.

"It was like landing on Mars," Gluckman said. "I went from scarcity to unbelievable wealth that was really difficult to get my hands around."

In Millville, an industrial nucleus of rural Cumberland County, Gluckman had $600,000 a year to serve 27,000 people.

The city, due west of Atlantic City, has relatively high poverty and unemployment and low literacy rates.

The library is neatly stuffed into a squat cube of yellow bricks. Nearby, the marquee of the boarded-up Levoy Theatre declares the week's big event: "Happy Birthday George Kracke."

After rent, salaries and building expenses, Gluckman had about $50,000 for books, CDs and computers, and $1,000 for programs. In Avalon, he has $130,000 a year just for programs.

"Usually during library week we might have a speaker, but we just don't have the money for it," said Mary Jane Shipman, the Millville library's adult-services coordinator.

With 57,000 holdings and eight computers, the library has a meager 1.76 volumes per Millville resident - well below the 6.05 in Ocean City and the 6.72 in Haddonfield, said Patricia Tumulty, executive director of the New Jersey Library Association.


There is a decidedly Zen vibe in the cavernous new building that houses the Avalon library.

Sunlight gushes through high windows. Vacationers tap earnestly on sleek laptops sucking up free wireless. There are dozens of free PCs.

For a town with a year-round population of 2,500, there are 42,000 holdings. That includes a new batch of Playaway digital audio books.

Gluckman marveled at the contrast to Millville.

"Here was a new library, the roof wasn't leaking, there wasn't any mold, I wouldn't have to clean the bathrooms when the part-time janitor wasn't there," he said.

Ocean City

The colorful bindings of hardcover best-sellers invite patrons toward the stacks at Ocean City's library like crayons in a super-size pack.

In this two-story library, 25 personal computers and 30 of the latest Harry Potter books in hardback can be found. Millville has six - two of them donated.

There are 100,000 volumes for 12,300 year-round residents.

"We had Gidget here in the lobby," library director Christopher Maloney noted of a recent guest speaker.

An alumnus of the struggling Pennsauken Free Public Library, Maloney said he believed the law did more good than harm, even if it led to inequities. Not so, he said, with a bill introduced by Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, the mayor of Washington Township.

Moriarty wants to be able to redirect some of his town's $800,000 in library savings toward municipal tax relief.

"We need to find a way of getting some of that money out without harming the libraries," the Democrat has said.

All of this may soon become a moot point, given the real estate slowdown. Blake said the surplus anomaly came around every decade or so as real estate boomed. It dissipates as the market contracts.

The New Jersey State League of Municipalities intends to continue advocating for a change next month.

That is because library funding is becoming more important to towns in light of new state restrictions (a 4 percent annual cap) on how much they can raise property taxes, executive director William Dressel Jr. said.

Towns that collect more in library taxes will have less wiggle room to raise taxes for other expenses without exceeding the cap, he said. Library revenues fall under the cap.

But apart from that fiscal pressure point, the issue of the surpluses deserves attention, he said.

"Some of these towns, their library systems cannot possibly spend the amount of money they're collecting."

A Quest to Get More Court Rulings Online, and Free

Published: August 20, 2007

SEBASTOPOL, Calif., Aug. 14 — The domination of two legal research services over the publication of federal and state court decisions is being challenged by an Internet gadfly who has embarked on an ambitious project to make more than 10 million pages of case law available free online.

The project is the latest effort of Carl Malamud, an activist who founded public.resource.org in March, with the broad intent of building “public works” accessible via the network, and with the specific plan to force the federal government to make information more publicly accessible.

Last week, Mr. Malamud began using advanced computer scanning technology to copy decisions, which have been available only in law libraries or via subscription from the Thomson West unit of the Canadian publishing conglomerate Thomson, and LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier, based in London.

The two companies control the bulk of the nearly $5 billion legal publishing market. (A third, but niche, player is the Commerce Clearing House division of Wolters Kluwer).

He has placed the first batch of 1,000 pages of court decisions from the 1880s online at the public.resource.org site. He obtained the documents from a used Thomson microfiche, he said.

Mr. Malamud, who is a self-styled Robin Hood of the information age, has confounded executives and administrators at organizations as diverse as the Smithsonian Institution, the House of Representatives and the Commerce Department by asserting the public’s right to government information and then proceeding to digitize it and place it in the public domain.

“I don’t mind people making billions,” Mr. Malamud said, “but I hate barriers to entry.”

Mr. Malamud has a significant track record in battling publishers over public information. In 1994 he began a crusade that ultimately persuaded the federal government to make records from the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Patent and Trademark Office available online to the public at no cost.

He said the free availability of that digital information did not undercut the businesses that were making money from the information at the time.

“The market for commercial services based on those databases actually increases once the core underlying data has been made widely available,” he wrote in a letter to the chief executive of Thomson North American Legal last week, informing the company of his actions.

Mr. Malamud is not the first person to attempt to unravel the control of West and LexisNexis. The issue of whether the companies have copyright protection over the published and online versions of the legal research reference materials led to legal challenges in the 1980s and ’90s. During the ’90s, a New York lawyer, Alan D. Sugarman, successfully challenged West, winning a ruling in a copyright protection lawsuit. However, Mr. Sugarman’s company, Hyperlaw, ultimately failed.

“It cost me a lot of money, and when it was all said and done I was wiped out financially, so I went back to the practice of law,” Mr. Sugarman said.

West’s electronic and print influence over the legal profession became so valuable that Thomson paid $3.4 billion for the company in 1996. The West books contain major court decisions, and they have been adopted as the standard in the nation’s courts and law firms, and the West method of identifying cases has remained the standard for citations in decisions and legal briefs.

However, Mr. Malamud and a diverse group of backers argue that the control of publishing court rulings subverts the original intent of the framers of the Constitution by making the nation’s laws difficult to obtain by those outside the legal profession.

In a letter to West Publishing last Wednesday, Mr. Malamud said his intent was to make federal and state court decisions available to a population that cannot afford the subscription costs.

Legal codes and cases are the “operating system” of the nation, he said. “The system only works if we can all openly read the primary sources,” he said in the letter. “It is crucial that the public domain data be available for anybody to build upon.”

John Shaughnessy, a spokesman for Thomson, said: “We have received the letter from Public Resource and Mr. Malamud raises a number of interesting but complex points. We are looking at them now and then will be in touch directly with Mr. Malamud.”

The Public Resource effort is one of several attempts to make the nation’s laws more accessible. One project, AltLaw (altlaw.org) is a joint effort by Columbia Law School’s Program on Law and Technology and the Silicon Flatirons program at the University of Colorado Law School to permit free full-text searches of the last decade of federal appellate and Supreme Court opinions.

“I’m a legal academic and I woke up one day and thought, ‘Why can’t I get cases the same way I get stuff on Google?’ ” said Tim Wu, a Columbia law professor who is one of the leaders of the project. “People should be able to get cases easily. This is a big exception to the way information has opened up over the past decade.”

The challenge faced by the various public interest and commercial efforts is the lack of standardization in the court system that makes it a technical nightmare for those who want to place information online for the public.

“There is supposed to be no ignorance of the law, and yet it’s not even accessible to most people,” said Tim Stanley, the chief executive of Justia, a Palo Alto, Calif., provider of online information.

Justia is spending about $10,000 a month to send people to copy documents at the Supreme Court so the company can place it online for free access, he said.

The unifying vision of all of the challengers to the current system is a Wikipedia-like effort to make the nation’s laws freely searchable by Internet search engines. They believe this will lead to a public system of annotation of the laws by legal scholars as well as bloggers, giving the American public much richer access to the nation’s laws.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Master Your Information Manifesto: 21 Tips to Deal with Info Overload

The problem with being constantly bombarded by information, as we web workers are, is not so much that we can’t deal with it, or that it distracts us from our work, or that it shortens our attention spans or stresses us out.

It’s that we have allowed that information to control our lives.

We’ve discussed this at length in the past. We can argue endlessly about whether a high amount of information and connectivity is good for you or not, or whether it increases or decreases productivity. The point is whether we really want to have all of this information, and whether we are in control of it, and whether consuming massive amounts of information is really how we want to spend all of our waking hours.

Who is the Master here: the information, or us?

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, there was a growing voluntary simplicity movement based on the growing trend of many people in the workplace to feel overworked and overwhelmed. They were spending way too much time at work, and they had paper planners that were massively thick and overflowing with tasks, calls to make, projects, appointments.

But that wasn’t how many people wanted to spend their time, and they decided to focus instead on what was important to them. And thus the voluntary simplicity movement grew in popularity out of a need to take back control of our lives and get out of the mindset that we needed to do more, more, more. We are so caught up in consuming more information, responding to more emails, connecting with more people, that we have lost sight of what’s really important to us.

What follows are a number of tips, to be used together or separately, depending on your needs, that will help you become the Master of your information, and stop the onslaught of information overload, so that you can reconnect with what’s truly important in your life.

1. Decide what’s important. The first step is to take a step back. Get away from the computer, go outside to some place where you can sit down and think, and take a pen and pad and make a simple list: name the 4-5 things that are most important to you. This includes work and personal life, and all the things you do (including things online) and the things you’ve always wanted to do. This might be family, it might be aspects of your career, it might be dreams and goals, it might be hobbies or passions. It could be anything. But identify the most important things in your life, and begin to make those a priority. I would guess that most of the things you do online won’t make the list.

2. Map out your day. Much of the problem is that we go online and just submerge ourselves in the information stream. And while some have argued that that’s not such a bad thing, the problem, again, is that we allow the information and those who are vying for our attention to dictate how we spend our most precious commodity: our time. I suggest that you, and not others, decide how you want to spend your time. Again, focus on what’s important to you, decide the three things you really want to accomplish today, and plan your day so that those things happen. You can include, in your time map of your day, things like checking email or reading feeds or chatting (see below), if those are important to you or your job, but the key is to make a conscious plan to do so and carry it out.

3. Work less. Again, I submit that we get away from the mindset that we need to do more, more, more, and decide that we want to focus on the few things that are important to us. In order to do that, we have to eliminate things that are unimportant to make room for the important. And leaving some space around the things in our life (don’t schedule every minute) leaves us with a little breathing room and a little sanity. While I’m not saying you can achieve a four-hour work week, I do think you can achieve a 40-hour work week, and probably much less. I’ve been slowly reducing the hours I work, so that I now put in about 24 hours a week, and I’m planning on cutting that to 16. The key is to decide what is important, and focus on those things.

4. Take control. Get into the mindset that you are the master of your information. It’s really about the mindset, because I think we’ve fallen into the trap of thinking that when there are emails in our inbox, we HAVE to read them, and when there are RSS feeds in our reader, we have to read them, and when people are IMing us, we have to respond. We don’t. If there are emails or feeds in your inbox, that’s not your problem. Technology should serve us, not the other way around. We should not be at the beck and call of technology. Learn to realize that, and see that email and the other info technology are tools at our disposal, and that we should use them when we need them, and not be slaves to them.

5. Shut down email. Again, email is a tool that you should use when you need it. You should not be a servant to it. As such, I suggest that you shut down your email when you don’t need it. Only go to your email when you want to use it, and don’t worry about responding to the messages in it right away, or even ever. If you want to respond to some of the urgent messages, feel free to do so, but again, you should pick and choose what you want to do. Don’t feel the need to respond to every message, or even read them. I would clear out my inbox every day or two, just by archiving or deleting those messages I don’t need to read or respond to, and dealing with the others at a time that I determine.

6. Allow feeds to overload. Just because you’re subscribed to an RSS feed doesn’t mean that you should be compelled to read it. As such, you should not need to clean out your feed inbox every day. You decide when you want to read feeds, how many, how long. If you want to skip over a dozen or even hundreds of feeds and just read a couple, that’s your choice. Mark the rest as “read” or just ignore the unread count.

7. Set up a chat zone. I rarely if ever use IM or any other kind of chat, but for those of you who need to be connected at least some of the time, you should have a set period each day when you connect to IM. Put it in your time map for the day, and let your contacts know that’s when you’ll be available. Don’t connect to chat at other times of the day, unless you really need to for a specific task.

8. Disconnect once a day. In your time map, have a certain period where you’re disconnected. It’ll take some getting used to, but after awhile, you’ll probably look forward to your disconnected periods. You’ll likely get more work done, or feel more relaxed. Morning times are good for this.

9. Take mini-breaks. Even when you’re connected, you shouldn’t do it for hours at a time. Every 45 minutes or so, get up, walk away from your computer, stretch your legs, take a walk around your home or office. Or better yet, get outside, get some fresh air, and get a little perspective. It’s important.

10. Block distractions. When you’re connected but need to work, use a utility like Page Addict to track your time on different sites and block the distractions. This will allow you to do the work you need but not be tempted to check email or your feeds or your forums or what have you.

11. Learn to focus. While short attention spans and the ability to multi-task might be a feature, and not a bug, of the newer generation of web workers, there’s still value in being able to focus on one task for long enough to complete it or at least make a lot of progress on it. It’s actually a skill that can be improved with practice. To learn to focus, turn off all programs and close all tabs except what’s needed to complete the task at hand. Set a timer for 10 or 20 minutes, and try to focus on getting the task done. When you feel yourself being pulled away, stop and pull yourself back. This ability to focus can make you a lot more productive.

12. Drop out of forums. I think there are a lot of use to forums, especially in helping you achieve a goal. But if you find yourself needing to go see what the latest messages are, and spending too much time there, it’s probably not as productive as it should be. Learn how to drop out when you don’t really need a forum, and forget about it.

13. Eliminate the news. Another huge source of information overload is news channels and sites. But what I’ve come to realize is that the news is all the same, but just packaged a little differently every time so we continue to consume it every day. Politics, human interest, international events, sports, entertainment … it’s the same every year, every month, every day. And it doesn’t add much to our lives — in fact, it distracts from what’s important. The important news will find you, trust me. Let the rest go.

14. Read only 5 posts a day. If you set a certain time of day to read your RSS feeds, instead of skimming through all the posts, just put them in headline mode. Then, each day, choose only 5 posts to open in new tabs and read fully. Sure, you’ll be missing out on some other good stuff, but who cares? There is way more information out there that is of interest than you can possibly consume each day. Learn to let go. Just focus on a 5 posts, and really enjoy them. Then move on.

15. Respond to only 5 emails a day. You can take a similar approach to email. Instead of trying to respond to the flood of emails coming in, just choose 5 every day and put them in a “respond” folder. Skim through the rest, and then respond to just those 5 emails every day. Life will go on, trust me.

16. Write 5-sentence emails. This has been written about by several people, including Mike Davidson, but it’s useful to also limit the length of your emails. Five sentences is a good limit. It forces you to be concise and to the point, and limits the time you spend responding to emails.

17. Do less. Track the things you do in a day. Every time you do something, whether it’s a work-related task or responding to an email or reading something or commenting on a blog or whatever, write it down. It’s probably going to be a long list. Now see how many you can eliminate. Do the same thing to your to-do list: eliminate the non-essential tasks. Do less, not more, but focus on what’s important.

18. Have a web-free day. Set one day a week where you don’t go on the Internet at all. That’s right. No email, no feeds, no blogs, no nothin’. A radical idea, to be sure, but one that will greatly increase your sanity and allow you to do what’s really important in your life.

19. Work disconnected. An alternate strategy to having a disconnected period each day, see Tip 8, is to disconnect each time you need to work on an essential task. Pull the information you need off the web, disconnect, do the task, and the reconnect if you want. But working in a disconnected mode will help you concentrate and take control of your time.

20. Tell people your boundaries. This is an important tip, because one of the things that makes us a slave to technology is the expectations by others that we will be connected, that we will communicate, that we will respond quickly. Well, that might be true, but it doesn’t have to be. Who says that we need to respond to emails right away? Who says that we need to be connected all the time? Well, maybe your boss does. But other than that, you should learn to take control of your time and your life, and set the expectations of others by telling them, up front, that you cannot be available all the time, and that you might not respond to email right away. Explain to them that you have a full schedule, and that you have set a new policy of being disconnected most of the time in order to get your work done. People might not always like this, but they’ll get used to it.

21. Ask yourself why. When you feel the need to connect, to respond, to check messages, to consume more information, stop for one second and ask yourself why. Why do you feel that need? If there’s a good answer, then by all means, do it. But if you don’t know the answer, it’s probably best that you re-examine your priorities and decide whether this is really how you want to spend your day.

Kanawha library awaits nation change to abandon Dewey Decimal

by Karen Snyder
Daily Mail Staff

A new movement could change the face of libraries across the country as they start to organize their books more like bookstores.

The move -- which certainly isn't expected to be a speedy one and is not ready to be embraced in Kanawha County -- takes on the time-honored system established by a man named Melvil Dewey.

In 1876, he set up a uniform way to classify non-fiction books in a numbered system now known as the Dewey Decimal Classification System. If you go to a library in South Charleston, you will find books organized the same way as in a library in Cleveland or Santa Fe. Religion is organized under the 200s; geography under the 900s.

But that is changing. The Maricopa County Library District in Arizona recently became one of the first libraries in the nation to abandon the Dewey system in favor of grouping books under headings by topic.

The topic is likely to come up at next year's convention of the American Library Association, where it is expected to spark debate.

Harry Courtright, director of the Maricopa County library, has said he believes most library goers don't know what the numbers mean, anyway.

Kanawha County Public Library employees are watching it all with interest.

"We're following these libraries that have made this change, and we are trying to listen and learn from them before we make a decision of our own," said Toni Blessing, the library's adult collection coordinator.

"It certainly is appealing, especially for our smaller locations," she said. "I think it would be difficult for the main library."

Blessing said the sheer number of books in the main building would make a complete re-organization nearly impossible.

The issue is complex and goes beyond the United States, she added.

"This is a really hot topic in libraries. The Dewey Decimal system is the most widely used classification system in the world. We have thousands of books on thousands of subjects, and we have to have a method to help people find them."

Proponents of abandoning Dewey say that books categorized by subject matter are much easier to navigate than those organized by the Dewey system or Library of Congress method, which is often used in academic libraries.

Blessing acknowledges the Dewey system does have its faults.

"It can be confusing and frustrating," she said. "Also, Dewey was developed a long time ago, and sometimes it doesn't allow for new subjects to be added."

In Arizona, library officials conducted surveys to see how patrons were using their facilities.
They learned patrons often come to browse rather than to find a specific title, and that the Dewey system was a hindrance to that.

Blessing agrees that accessibility is important.

"Sometimes you don't know what you want to read until it jumps off the shelf at you," she said.

"We certainly don't have plans to do away with Dewey right now, but we'll wait and see," Blessing said.

For now, the library is focusing on services. The construction of a new main library by 2010 will provide the space needed for additions that have become trends across the nation.
The first of these, Blessing said, is comfortable seating such as couches and chairs.
"We do want people to come in and feel comfortable," Blessing said.
Contact writer Karen Snyder at karensnyder@dailymail.com or 348-7939.

Google News to Let Subjects of Stories Comment

August 8th, 2007 by Dan Gillmor


From the Google News blog comes news of a new initiative “Perspectives about the news from people in the news.”

We’ll be trying out a mechanism for publishing comments from a special subset of readers: those people or organizations who were actual participants in the story in question. Our long-term vision is that any participant will be able to send in their comments, and we’ll show them next to the articles about the story. Comments will be published in full, without any edits, but marked as “comments” so readers know it’s the individual’s perspective, rather than part of a journalist’s report.

How will this work? How will Google verify that the people commenting on what’s been written about them are actually the people in question? What kind of data-gathering will this lead to on Google’s part?

The fact that Google is trying this is, in one sense, testament to an abject failure on the part of traditional news operations. With the Net, they could have given people the chance to comment in this way — above and beyond the standard comment published as part of a story or a letter to the editor. They didn’t, and left this opening.

If Google pulls this off, it will be a huge boost for one company — Google — because people looking for responses to news articles will head to the search site, not just to the site of the original story.

It’s a fascinating initiative, no matter what. And it’s not too late for news organizations to get their acts together and give the people they write about a convenient platform of their own — Dave Winer suggests blogs (”Let the readers sort it out”) — to reply.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

A Library For Mars

posted by Blake The Phoenix Mars Lander is equipped with instruments that could detect the signature of life on Mars - but it also carries signatures, stories and lots more for future generations. The nonprofit Planetary Society is sending along what's billed as the first library for the Red Planet: a silica-glass mini-DVD encoded with scores of stories about space exploration, audio and artwork from some of our planet's best and brightest, plus digitally encoded names submitted by thousands of Earthlings. Perhaps the coolest thing about the DVD is the label addressed to future visitors on Mars: "Attention Astronauts: Take This With You."

FBI Warning! - But no mention of fair use

The Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) has filed a complaint with the FCC over the warnings that precede home movies, and are the standard fare of televised sports. The CCIA indicates that the warnings, which indicate that this media is not to be reproduced without permission, scares uninformed users who do not understand their fair use rights. You can read an L.A. Times article about the proceedings here or go to the CCIA's "Defend Fair Use" website and look at the actual complaint.

Authors Share the Books that Hooked Them on Reading

By Kevin Howell -- Publishers Weekly

A number of authors and celebrities are participating in “What Book Got You Hooked?”— a national awareness campaign from First Book, the children’s literacy organization that provides new books to children from low-income families. The 15-year-old organization has just given its 50 millionth book to children in need.

The top five titles that created readers were:
(1) Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene
(2) Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
(3) Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
(4) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
(5) The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss.

The organization lists the top 50 books on its Web site.

The authors singing the praises of specific books that sparked their love of books include:

Joyce Carol Oates on Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. She writes: “My grandmother gave me the Alice books in a single volume when I was nine years old. I think that I virtually memorized every page, and certainly every brilliant nonsense poem, and was inspired to attempt to write my own ‘Alice’ books as a result.”

Kate DiCamillo writes: “I remember reading Gone with the Wind when I was maybe nine years old. A lot of the story was over my head, but I was captivated in a way that I never been captivated before. The real world receded. I lived only for the book; and when it was over, when I finished, I emerged dazed and blinking, well and truly addicted to stories and to books.”

Michael Chabon fondly recalls Ray Bradbury's The Rocket Man: “I read it for the first time when I was 10 and the pleasure I took in reading was altered irrevocably. Before then I had never noticed, somehow, that stories were made not of ideas or exciting twists of plot, but of language.

There are also recollections from Eric Carle, John Lithgow, Edward Norton, Rebecca Romijn, Judy Woodruff, Rick Reilly, David Duchovny, John Krasinski and others on First Book’s Web site.

“Many of us remember the one book that we wanted to read over and over again—the book that really stirred our imaginations and left us wanting just one more chapter before bedtime,” said First Book president, Kyle Zimmer. “The fact that there are millions of children in our own country that will grow up without these kinds of memories because they have no access to books is devastating. We are delighted that so many people shared their stories in order to help us shine the spotlight on this critical issue.”

Authors Share the Books that Hooked Them on Reading

By Kevin Howell -- Publishers Weekly, 8/6/2007 7:55:00 AM

A number of authors and celebrities are participating in “What Book Got You Hooked?”— a national awareness campaign from First Book, the children’s literacy organization that provides new books to children from low-income families. The 15-year-old organization has just given its 50 millionth book to children in need.

The top five titles that created readers were:
(1) Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene
(2) Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
(3) Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
(4) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
(5) The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss.

The organization lists the top 50 books on its Web site.

The authors singing the praises of specific books that sparked their love of books include:

Joyce Carol Oates on Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. She writes: “My grandmother gave me the Alice books in a single volume when I was nine years old. I think that I virtually memorized every page, and certainly every brilliant nonsense poem, and was inspired to attempt to write my own ‘Alice’ books as a result.”

Kate DiCamillo writes: “I remember reading Gone with the Wind when I was maybe nine years old. A lot of the story was over my head, but I was captivated in a way that I never been captivated before. The real world receded. I lived only for the book; and when it was over, when I finished, I emerged dazed and blinking, well and truly addicted to stories and to books.”

Michael Chabon fondly recalls Ray Bradbury's The Rocket Man: “I read it for the first time when I was 10 and the pleasure I took in reading was altered irrevocably. Before then I had never noticed, somehow, that stories were made not of ideas or exciting twists of plot, but of language.

There are also recollections from Eric Carle, John Lithgow, Edward Norton, Rebecca Romijn, Judy Woodruff, Rick Reilly, David Duchovny, John Krasinski and others on First Book’s Web site.

“Many of us remember the one book that we wanted to read over and over again—the book that really stirred our imaginations and left us wanting just one more chapter before bedtime,” said First Book president, Kyle Zimmer. “The fact that there are millions of children in our own country that will grow up without these kinds of memories because they have no access to books is devastating. We are delighted that so many people shared their stories in order to help us shine the spotlight on this critical issue.”

Monday, August 06, 2007

Venezuela's four-legged mobile libraries

A university in Venezuela is using a novel method to take books into remote communities and encourage people to read. As James Ingham reports, the scheme is proving a great success.

The village children love reading the books that the mules bring

Chiquito and Cenizo greet me with a bit of a snort and a flick of the tail.

Mules are too tough to bother being sweet. They do a hard job which no other animal or human invention can do as well.

But these mules are rather special.

They are known as bibliomulas (book mules) and they are helping to spread the benefits of reading to people who are isolated from much of the world around them.

My trek started from the Valley of Momboy in Trujillo, one of Venezuela's three Andean states.

These are the foothills of the Andes but they are high enough, especially when you are walking.

Slow but steady

The idea of loading mules with books and taking them into the mountain villages was started by the University of Momboy, a small institution that prides itself on its community-based initiatives and on doing far more than universities in Venezuela are required to do by law.

Spreading the joy of reading is our main aim
Christina Vieras, project leader

Accompanying us was local guide Ruan who knows a thing or two about mules.

He was their boss, cajoling them carefully as they started up the hill at a slow-but-steady, no-nonsense plod.

The deeply rutted, dry and dusty path snaked its way up. The sun beat on the back of my neck.

We were all breathless, apart from Ruan.

Diving for books

A break came when it was my turn to ride a mule. I enjoyed a great view of the valley but held on tight as Chiquito veered close to the edge.

Map of Venezuela

Hot and slightly bothered after two hours, we reached Calembe, the first village on this path.

Anyone who was not out working the fields - tending the celery that is the main crop here - was waiting for our arrival. The 23 children at the little school were very excited.

"Bibilomu-u-u-u-las," they shouted as the bags of books were unstrapped. They dived in eagerly, keen to grab the best titles and within minutes were being read to by Christina and Juana, two of the project leaders.

"Spreading the joy of reading is our main aim," Christina Vieras told me.

"But it's more than that. We're helping educate people about other important things like the environment. All the children are planting trees. Anything to improve the quality of life and connect these communities."

Internet plans

As the project grows, it is using the latest technology.

Mountain children reading
I love reading books and we get told some really nice stories
Jose Castillo
12 years old

Somehow there is already a limited mobile phone signal here, so the organisers are taking advantage of that and equipping the mules with laptops and projectors.

The book mules are becoming cyber mules and cine mules.

"We want to install wireless modems under the banana plants so the villagers can use the internet," says Robert Ramirez, the co-ordinator of the university's Network of Enterprising Rural Schools.

"Imagine if people in the poor towns in the valley can e-mail saying how many tomatoes they'll need next week, or how much celery.

"The farmers can reply telling them how much they can produce. It's blending localisation and globalisation."

Local enthusiasm

The book mule team played noisy games with the children, listened to them read and lunched with the adults, discussing over a hearty soup and corn bread how the community can develop the scheme.

This four-legged mobile library is not just keeping this place alive but making it thrive

One idea was using the mules to transport medicines which can be so hard to get hold of here.

Everyone I spoke to - both adults and children - was full of enthusiasm.

"It's great," said 12-year-old Jose Castillo. "I love reading books and we get told some really nice stories."

Looking up from reading her book about Harry the cat and his trip to the vet, Gesenae Guerdo told me she loved reading too.

"We share a lot of these books," she said.

Javier Sulveran, a young, bright man in his twenties, tells me that the village is very supportive of the project:

"The children are really motivated to read and we are too. A lot of the adults are reading more. It's great that they come up here."

The university has acquired a new mule. They are going to keep it in Calembe under the care of the locals, something Javier really approved of.

The mule will be able to get further into the mountains and spread the word to more villages that so far remain too remote.

With fond farewells we left Calembe behind. It was clear I was leaving a place with a strong sense of community.

This four-legged mobile library is not just keeping this place alive but making it thrive.

From Our Own Correspondent was broadcast on Saturday, 4 August, 2007 at 1130 BST on BBC Radio 4. Please check the programme schedules for World Service transmission times.

Library cutbacks are shortsighted solution

I remember my father, a rabid gardener, teaching me what the huge piles of dirt beside new housing developments meant. He explained that they scrape off all the topsoil to sell. I asked how things grew if there was no dirt left. He said people had to buy it back, or just hope for the best while planting in soil devoid of nutrients.

It didn't make much sense to me at the time; cynicism has made me wiser.

I've been following the latest proposed municipal budget cuts. I'm no lobbyist, and I don't have any special interests, but for the life of me, I will never understand the slashing and pillaging of funds destined for libraries.

If you haven't been in a library recently, you need to go. I worked in one as a teen after spending hours and hours there as a child. Back then, most of the librarians still had that stern demeanour – I recall one who actually would peer at you over half glasses, complete with a little strap so they could swing from her neck when she didn't need them. She was terrifying.

This past week, I ventured into the most beautiful little library I have ever been in. Located in Wainfleet, Ont., (population: 6,600), it's a large single room that emanates out from a glorious skylight. It has specialty nooks for magazine and newspaper readers, and a fabulous children's section with a flowing mural and custom kid-sized furniture. The layout is brilliant.

Chief librarian Rona O'Banion is young and funny and has more energy than the kids who filled her children's section that day. Recognizing a small community needs its anchors – and that a library should be one them – she has blown the dust off the concept of what a library should be.

If libraries were some profit-driven corporation, they'd pour millions into ad campaigns to remind you of what they have to offer. But they're not, and they can't.

And as we lose touch with the most valuable things a library has to offer, we cripple ourselves in the process.

Read a book you loved, and want more like it? Ask a librarian.

They don't just show you more by the same author, they'll show you dozens by other authors.

It's great that we buy books for our children, but at a library, they can go free range and peck at what they want. You don't have to be wealthy to deliver to your child a lifetime of riches; take them to the library.

An Internet connection is a wonderful thing, but children have a hard time discerning context. The provenance of much of the information is missing or limited, and a library is staffed with people trained to know the difference.

As parents venture out of their knowledge comfort zones, libraries can help us continue to lead our children. And yes, I want to be able to do that on a Sunday. We support hot and cold running 'round the clock access to everything that doesn't matter. Library hours we truncate.

The whole concept of libraries originated with private collections being made public. It was recognized early on that access to literature on every discipline would help create the kind of society we yearn for. Julius Caesar reportedly burned the fabulous Library of Alexandria, knowing it would be a bit of a sore point for his enemy.

I won't feign ignorance about governments having to make hard decisions in dispersing public funds; but neither should taxpayers feign surprise when, after all the topsoil has been hauled away, a tree refuses to grow.

Serving Underserved Communities With Books About Art

Do you work in a library in an underserved community or know of other librarians who do? You should know about the DUC Program where publishers distribute books on contemporary art and culture free of charge to rural and inner-city libraries, schools and alternative reading centers nationwide.

Check out their FAQ page to find out if your library qualifies.

Cool Book Art

To see some cool book art look here and here.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Book: A Librarian Who Made A Difference

from the WWII dept.
posted by birdie on Tuesday July 31

Helen Wheeler writes in the Berkeley Daily Planet a review of the book "Dear Miss Breed".

Miss Breed was the San Diego Public Library's first Children's Librarian. She worked in the branch used by the city's Japanese American children. Within four months of Dec. 7, 1941, San Diego Nikkei were forced to leave their homes, schools, jobs, and public libraries. At the train station Miss Breed distributed self-addressed post cards to her children and sent them packages of books and other necessities that she purchased as she came to know their locations. She wrote about their condition and struggled to get published in library literature. And more.

I learned of Miss Breed because recently I happened to tune into Book-TV when Joanne Oppenheim related her experiences writing the book-- Dear Miss Breed: True Stories of the Japanese American Incarceration During World War II and a Librarian Who Made a Difference to an audience that included many of Miss Breed's children and their children at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. All of the above describes this wonderfully illustrated and written book in the barest terms.

"Librarian Hotties" Calendar Planned for 2008

image for "Librarian Hotties" Calendar Planned for 2008
Matilda Krumpf is Miss February in the upcoming "Librarian Hotties" calendar.

ATLANTA, GA (AP Newsliar) -- The American Library Association (ALA) is issuing its first ever "Librarian Hotties" calendar. The calendar will be available for ordering this November.

The 2008 calendar will feature 12 of the nation's sexiest librarians in revealing attire. The librarians appearing in the calendar were chosen earlier this year from among finalists in the ALA's "Librarian Hotties" contest.

The ALA's goal in issuing the calendar is twofold. First, they want to dispel persistent stereotypes of librarians as frumpy late-middle age women in turtlenecks and owl-sized glasses who have their noses buried in books when not watching their "Best of Murder She Wrote" dvd's. Second, they hope to attract the interest of young men ages 16 to 25, a demographic sadly under-represented among the library using population.

Says ALA spokesperson Gladys Stoutbottom: "Let's face it, every young man has a fantasy about the seemingly dowdy librarian who lets her hair down after work and turns into a raving hot nymphomaniac. We're just playing into that fantasy. Next time some young man gets shushed by a bespectacled librarian he'll be wondering what color her panties are. Just you wait and see, boyo."