Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Free Webinars Showcasing the MaintainIT Cookbook

MaintainIT Cookbook, "Planning for Success" is on the horizon. This free online resource brings together current ideas and best practices for planning, building, and managing your library’s computer technology. Librarians around the country have contributed their knowledge on topics ranging from security solutions and strategic maintenance practices to community experiences involving Web 2.0 tools and vital partnerships.

For the next month they will be hosting a cornucopia of free webinars to showcase the new materials—from 20-minute introductions to one hour topic specific discussions. Join us for these learning experiences:

Tasty Tidbits from the New MaintainIT Cookbook: A Free Introductory Webinar
20 Samples in 20 Minutes:
10/29/2008 9:30am - 9:50am Pacific Register:
10/29/2008 10:00am - 10:20am Pacific Register:

Get Your Game On - Quick Tips to Start a Gaming Program in Your Library
10/29/2008 11:00 am-12:00 Pacific Register:

Recycling and Refurbishing Old Computers: A Free Webinar for Libraries
This webinar is being offered twice! Just register for the time that works best for you.
10/30/2008 9:00am - 10:00am Pacific Register:
10/30/2008 1:00pm - 2:00pm Pacific Register:

Web 2.0 Collaboration Tools and Libraries
11/3/2008 2:00-3:00 PM Eastern Register:

Discussing Technology with Library Shareholders
11/6/2008 2:00-3:00 PM Eastern Register:

The MaintainIT Project is a three-year project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. We gather stories from public libraries on how they support public computers and publish their tips and techniques in Cookbooks and articles, available for FREE on the project web site. The Project works with libraries throughout the U.S. and Canada, sharing stories from the field so librarians can learn from each other.

How libraries helped me discover my world

As part of London Public Library Week, which ends Saturday, library users were invited to write about 250 words on the subject of how libraries helped them "discover their world."

The contest -- called My Life. My Library. My Story -- was judged by London Public Library playwright-in-residence Dave Carley, marketing manager Christina Nurse, and Free Press managing editor Joe Ruscitti.

Here are the winning entries

Librarians oppose age recommendations for books

Librarians have thrown their weight behind the campaign to keep age ranges off children's books, saying they will ignore the classifications and describing them as potentially harmful to children's enjoyment of reading.

"Anything that puts a barrier between a child and a book is a problem," said Tricia Adams, chair of the youth libraries group at CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals). "The issue for me is that when a child takes [an age banded book] out of a library they are then badged by their peers, who'll be saying 'that's for seven-year-olds, and you're ten'."

Google Settles Suit Over Book-Scanning Project

Google, the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers have settled a class-action lawsuit over Google’s book-scanning project.

The company and the book groups said Tuesday that Google would pay $125 million and legal fees to resolve claims by authors and publishers.
Full story here.

Another commentator (Tony Bandy) offered this from the Google site and specifically his favorite quote:

  • "...We'll also be offering libraries, universities and other organizations the ability to purchase institutional subscriptions, which will give users access to the complete text of millions of titles while compensating authors and publishers for the service. Students and researchers will have access to an electronic library that combines the collections from many of the top universities across the country. Public and university libraries in the U.S. will also be able to offer terminals where readers can access the full text of millions of out-of-print books for free...."
  • Librarian Has To Pay Fee for Being a Proud Father

    by birdie

    From the New York Times...

    Parental pride has had a significant cost for a Brooklyn high school librarian. Robert Grandt was charged a $500 fee as a punishment for promoting his daughter's graphic novel on the job.

    Grandt says he only meant to show how proud he was by highlighting his daughter's first book, an adaptation of "Macbeth" that she co-illustrated. Grandt promoted the book in a newsletter he distributes as a librarian at Brooklyn Technical High School [my son's alma mater] and gave out free copies.

    History of the Dot


    A review of the History of the Dot. See: "Dot Everything" By Jennifer Schuessler, the New York Times, October 27. Earlier this month, Oxford University Press published “On the Dot: The Speck that Changed the World” — a short and very enthusiastic history of the mark you make when you dip a toothpick into a puddle of stuff.

    Forget the almighty and all-explaining cod. Without the dot, coauthors Nicholas and Alexander Humez argue, “the morning newspaper would be a single monster sentence, broken only by the occasional comma; accounts receivable would no longer distinguish between dollars and cents (at least in the United States); Internet addresses and much of the programming that supports the dot-coms that they identify would be unintelligible; the sheet music for your favorite jig would be quite out of kilter with the tune… You get the idea.”

    Librarian jobs among 'hardest to fill'

    WCVB television in Boston brings us this article that says librarian jobs are hard to fill.

    Eisenbrey says EPI data shows labor shortages in a number of white-collar niches, from healthcare workers to librarians, farm managers, engineering managers and environmental scientists.

    Where do they come up with these things?

    Los Angeles School Librarian Loses Her Home, But Gets a Hand from Her School

    LA Daily News reports:

    When they needed a little pep talk, the kids and teachers at Lassen Elementary School in North Hills would come and see the librarian - the voice of experience trying to make everyone feel OK.

    Not this time. This time Wanda Dueker was on the receiving end. The 15-year elementary-school librarian was welcomed back to school Monday with hugs and plenty of support after her Lake View Terrace mobile home was burned to the ground two weeks ago along with 38 other mobile homes in her park.

    A future without libraries? A radical new idea

    On a librarian listserv there was the following post today. Wanted to put it on LISNEWS so people could comment:
    (Because the post is slightly longer than LISNEWS allows on the front page make sure you click the "read more" link at bottom of post. You will know if you have the whole thing if you see the last line that says: What do YOU think of my idea? )

    This is only my opinion and has been posted to many lists for feedback. (Sorry about any duplicate posts you may receive)

    I can envision a future without libraries. Yes, without libraries...but with more librarians.

    1. More and more resources are online. Even ones formerly available only in print are now also online. And many are available only online.
    2. Users increasingly want resources only if they are online. They don't want to have to go tot the library to answer their questions.
    3. Is it fiscally responsible to require users to spend their valuable time to come to the library?
    4. Is it fiscally responsible to allow users to spend their valuable time looking for information online when they a) do not know where to search, b) do not know how to search (effectively), and c) probably do not know how to determine if the information they find is correct or reliable?

    So, I can see a future without physical libraries but with librarians embedded within the units of the organization. These librarians would be professionally trained (degreed) not only in librarianship, with an emphasis on customer service, but also in the subject matter of the users.

    This would be a reasonable scenario for corporate, medical, law, and non-profit organizational libraries. It could also work in school libraries with classroom collections and a librarian that visits each classroom on a frequent schedule (or as requested) to teach and answer questions and help with research projects. This system could even work with academic institutions, with the distribution of the main library (which often serves as a sort of archives where 98 percent of the books never leave the shelves) to departmental collections and librarians in each department.

    I know that this is a radical departure from current practice. However, I am at a point in my career (almost retired) where I am free to look back and forward at the same time, leading to this type of thinking.

    What do YOU think of my idea?

    Thursday, October 16, 2008

    Librarian documentary to begin DVD sales on website

    The Hollywood Librarian: A Look at Librarians Through Film today launched sales of the DVD version at its website,

    The feature length documentary, which premiered in Washington D.C. in June 2007 and has been screened in 13 countries, can now be ordered by customers in the U.S. and Canada, with international ordering to begin soon. The DVD will begin shipping in December.

    The DVD contains the 96 minute film. plus such bonus features as extended interviews, deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes production photos, subtitling in Spanish and French, closed captioning for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in English, and more.

    Two versions of the DVD are on sale now at the website: the standard retail version for $39.95 and a Public Performance Rights (PPR) version with limited performance rights to show the movie in public and educational settings for $289.95.

    Film International calls the documentary “a deft weaving” and “a hopeful elegy …a well-reasoned, eloquent, and enjoyable argument for the continued importance of libraries in the modern democracy.” And The Edmonton Journal wrote that The Hollywood Librarian is “Entertaining, uplifting and educational, it's everything a good documentary should be.”

    The film was written, produced and directed by Ann Seidl, and is being distributed by Bifolkal Productions, a non-profit organization in Madison, Wisconsin. Bifolkal produces terrific program ideas and resources for libraries planning reminiscence programs with older adults; check out their website.

    BREAKING: Mesa Public Library Served With Search Warrants


    Early this morning the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office served search warrants at Mesa Public Library and Mesa City Hall. According to sources, they're looking for undocumented and illegal workers under a controversial new law in Arizona which allows for the punishment of business owners for hiring illegal immigrants.

    Details are sparse at this time, but statements are being prepared by the City Of Mesa.

    Monday, October 13, 2008

    How Much Info is Too Much Info?

    Posted by It’s hard not to watch the news on the financial markets and the presidential campaign. But how much is too much? Story in the NYT.

    Towards information for all, posted by Blake

    An international conference held this week at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina highlighted the role of libraries in meeting the challenges of the formation age, writes Heba Sharobeem :

    In a new millennium where the importance of equal treatment, respect and tolerance of the "other" is frequently highlighted, we nevertheless find such slogans shattered in reality and cultural misunderstanding proliferating in the media around the world bringing about feelings of hostility and intolerance. We also see how anti-terrorism legislation and national-security concerns have caused chilling effects on freedom of speech and decreased access to information.

    Wal-Mart's DRM Nightmare Just Won't End

    Posted by

    Wal-Mart has decided to keep the music that it sold wrapped in a layer of copyright protection playable, following a flurry of customer complaints about legally purchased music becoming unplayable. The probably wishes it had never tangled with digital rights management, because it's going to keep paying for it long after its switch to selling DRM-free MP3s.

    An e-mail sent to Wal-Mart digital music store customers said the company will continue to support the DRM-ed song files sold on starting in 2003. The e-mail reversed last month's announcement that Wal-Mart would shut down the servers that authenticate the copyright protected music it no longer sells. Unfortunately, doing so would render all protected music purchased from the store in the past five years unplayable.

    A Rare Personal Library

    Browse the Artifacts of Geek History in Jay Walker's Library

    By Steven Levy Email 09.22.08
    From King James to James Bond, Chaucer to Sputnik, a personal library like no other.
    Photo: Andrew Moore

    The View From Above Looming over the library is an original Sputnik 1 satellite, one of several backups the Soviets built. At far left is a model of NASA's experimental X-29 jet, with forward-swept wings. "It's the first plane that a pilot can't fly—only computers can handle it," Walker says. On the top of the center shelves are "scholar's rocks," natural formations believed by the Chinese to spur contemplation. Behind the rocks is a 15-foot-long model of the Saturn V rocket.

    Nothing quite prepares you for the culture shock of Jay Walker's library. You exit the austere parlor of his New England home and pass through a hallway into the bibliographic equivalent of a Disney ride. Stuffed with landmark tomes and eye-grabbing historical objects—on the walls, on tables, standing on the floor—the room occupies about 3,600 square feet on three mazelike levels. Is that a Sputnik? (Yes.) Hey, those books appear to be bound in rubies. (They are.) That edition of Chaucer ... is it a Kelmscott? (Natch.) Gee, that chandelier looks like the one in the James Bond flick Die Another Day. (Because it is.) No matter where you turn in this ziggurat, another treasure beckons you—a 1665 Bills of Mortality chronicle of London (you can track plague fatalities by week), the instruction manual for the Saturn V rocket (which launched the Apollo 11 capsule to the moon), a framed napkin from 1943 on which Franklin D. Roosevelt outlined his plan to win World War II. In no time, your mind is stretched like hot taffy.

    Jay's Anatomy "What's so wonderful about our knowledge of the human body is how remarkably constrained it has been over time," Walker says. In the center of the table sits the Anatomia universa, an early-19th-century medical masterwork by the Italian illustrator Paolo Mascagni. At front right is a field tool kit for Civil War surgeons. Grasping the box of prosthetic eyeballs at left is the original "Thing" hand from the TV show The Addams Family, signed by the cast. In front of the 19th-century phrenological bust is a book, from about 1500, containing the first published illustrations of surgery on humans. "Pre-anesthesia, of course" Walker says. At the rear are a 300 million-year-old trilobite fossil, a raptor skeleton, and a clutch of fossilized dinosaur eggs.

    Wearing a huge can-you-believe-it grin is the collection's impresario, the 52-year-old Internet entrepreneur and founder of Walker Digital — a think tank churning out ideas and patents, it's best-known for its lucrative "I started an R&D lab and have been an entrepreneur. So I have a big affinity for the human imagination," he says. "About a dozen years ago, my collection got so big that I said, 'It's time to build a room, a library, that would be about human imagination.'"

    Walker's house was constructed specifically to accommodate his massive library. To create the space, which was constructed in 2002, Walker and architect Mark Finlay first built a 7-foot-long model. Then they used miniature cameras to help visualize what it would be like to move around inside. In a conscious nod to M. C. Escher (whose graphics are echoed in the wood tiling), the labyrinthine platforms seem to float in space, an illusion amplified by the glass-paneled bridges connecting the platforms. Walker commissioned decorative etched glass, dynamic lighting, and even a custom soundtrack that sets the tone for the cerebral adventures hidden in this cabinet of curiosities. "I said to the architect, 'Think of it as a theater, from a lighting and engineering standpoint,'" Walker says. "But it's not a performance space. It's an engagement space."

    Planetarium The massive "book" by the window is a specially commissioned, internally lit 2.5-ton Clyde Lynds sculpture. It's meant to embody the spirit of the library: the mind on the right page, the universe on the left. Pointing out to that universe is a powerful Questar 7 telescope. On the rear of the table (from left) are a globe of the moon signed by nine of the 12 astronauts who walked on it, a rare 19th-century sky atlas with white stars against a black sky, and a fragment from the Sikhote-Alin meteorite that fell in Russia in 1947—it's tiny but weighs 15 pounds. In the foreground is Andrea Cellarius' hand-painted celestial atlas from 1660. "It has the first published maps where Earth was not the center of the solar system," Walker says. "It divides the age of faith from the age of reason."

    Inspiration Point Walker frequently meets with the Walker Digital brain trust in the seating area of the library, hoping to draw inspiration from the surroundings. Artist Clyde Lynds (known for integrating fiber optics into his work) created the intricate illuminated glass panels and many other visual elements. Walker himself designed the Escher-like tile floor, modeled after a tumbling block pattern from the Victorian age. He bought the chandelier (seen in the Bond film Die Another Day) at an auction and rewired it with 6,000 LEDs. The open book on the table features watercolor illustrations for an 18th-century papal palace that was never built. The globe has special meaning for Walker: "It was a wedding gift Eileen and I received in 1982."

    Reading Room In the foreground are several early-20th-century volumes with jeweled bindings—gold, rubies, and diamonds—crafted by the legendary firm Sangorski & Sutcliffe. On the table (first row, from left) is a 16th-century book of jousting, a Dickens novel decorated with the author's portrait, and (open, with Post-it flags) an original copy of the 1493 Nuremberg Chronicle, the first illustrated history book. Second row: the 1535 Coverdale Bible (the first completely translated into modern English), a medieval tome with intricate illustrations of dwarfs, a collection of portraits commissioned at a 17th-century German festival ("Facebook in 1610!"), a tree-bark Indonesian guide to cannibalism, and a Middle Eastern mother goddess icon from around 5000 BC.

    Walker shuns the sort of bibliomania that covets first editions for their own sake—many of the volumes that decorate the library's walls are leather-bound Franklin Press reprints. What gets him excited are things that changed the way people think, like Robert Hooke's Micrographia. Published in 1665, it was the first book to contain illustrations made possible by the microscope. He's also drawn to objects that embody a revelatory (or just plain weird) train of thought. "I get offered things that collectors don't," he says. "Nobody else would want a book on dwarfs, with pages beautifully hand-painted in silver and gold, but for me that makes perfect sense."

    What excites him even more is using his treasures to make mind-expanding connections. He loves juxtapositions, like placing a 16th-century map that combines experience and guesswork—"the first one showing North and South America," he says—next to a modern map carried by astronauts to the moon. "If this is what can happen in 500 years, nothing is impossible."

    Gadget Lab A brand-new One Laptop per Child XO, far left, sits next to a relatively ancient RadioShack TRS-80 Model 100. In back, a 1911 typewriting machine and a 1909 Kent radio. The large contraption at center is the Nazis' supposedly unbreakable Enigma code machine. The book to its left is a copy of Johannes Trithemius' 1518 Polygraphiae, a cryptographic landmark. On the right is an Apple II motherboard signed by Woz. An Edison kinetoscope sits beside an 1890 Edison phonograph (along with three of the wax cylinders it uses for recording). Nearby is a faithful copy of Edison's lightbulb. The gadget with the tubes is an IBM processor circa 1960. In front of it stands a truly ancient storage device, a Sumerian clay cone used to record surplus grain.

    Walker struggles to balance privacy with his impulse to share his finds with the outside world. Schoolchildren often visit by invitation, as do executives, politicians, and scholars. Last February, the organizers of the TED conference persuaded him to decorate their stage with some of his treasures. But he's never invited any press in to see the collection—until now.

    Senior writer Steven Levy ( profiled sci-fi author Neal Stephenson in issue 16.09.

    Harry Potter books vanish from libraries

    Posted by Blake

    MORE than 100,000 books worth a total of £600,000 have been stolen from libraries in Wales in just two years, the Western Mail can reveal today.

    Children’s books, novels and health books have been among those stolen or never returned to branches across Wales.

    TextBook Torrents Turns The Final Page and Closes Down

    posted by

    From relative obscurity, Textbook Torrents, the world’s largest BitTorrent index of textbooks, found itself in the world spotlight during July 2008 and was forced to close down by its host. The site returned weeks later, growing massively in the process, but now, just a couple of months on, the site has closed for good.

    Full article here

    Wednesday, October 08, 2008

    Bad News on Literacy from the United Nations

    Things aren't improving fast enough or far enough, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia, and particularly among women.

    U.S. First Lady Laura Bush was at U.N. headquarters in New York Tuesday to spotlight the need for improved literacy. The statistics are daunting, 774 million people worldwide cannot read and write. Two-thirds of them are women. Seventy-five million children do not attend school. And in Africa, only 61 percent of adults can read and write, compared with the world average of about 82 percent.

    More from the Voice of America.