Thursday, July 24, 2008

Errata Page for Your World Atlases

Link to 7/21 Huffington Post, "McCain's Secret Map Showing Iraq/Pakistan Border".

Raise your hand. How many libraries still have an atlas case?

Social Issues to Appear on Many State Ballots This Fall

Link to July 24 post, "Social issues crowd state ballots".

So far, there is no single issue dominating statewide ballots, unlike in 2004 when gay marriage bans were voted on in 11 states, or in 2006, when minimum wage was on six state ballots and property rights on 12.

Among social issues, more proposals that would appeal to conservative voters than to liberals are showing up in 2008. But there is no consensus on whether ballot measures tend to drive enough voters to the polls to give an advantage to a presidential candidate.

Wisconsin hasn't joined the circus this year.

Here's a tally from a sidebar, "2008 Ballot Measures". (Number of times states are mentioned.)
4 - California
3 - Arizona, Colorado, Oregon
2 - Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan Missouri, South Dakota
1 - Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Nebraska, North Dakota

For more information click here. (Ballot Initiative Strategy Center. "A Brief Survey of Ballot Initiative Activity around the Country".)

Sony Ups the Ante on E-Books

Link to July 24 post, "Sony opens e-book reader to outside publishers".

Sony announced on Thursday that its Reader Digital Book will be able to read electronic books published using the .epub format that many of the largest book publishers are using.

Until now, Sony's e-book reader could only read books available from the Sony e-book store, PDF documents, and DRM-free text. Starting next month, the new PRS-505 Sony Reader model will be able to access secure DRM- and non-DRM-protected content in the .epub format, formerly called the Open eBook format. (Here's a review of the device.)
"This upgrade opens the door to a whole host of paid and free content from third-party eBook stores, Web sites, and even public libraries," Steve Haber, senior vice president of consumer product marketing for Sony Electronics, said in a statement.

See 7/18/2008 post, "Broward County Library Reports Success Circulating Sony Reader".

Politics 2.0, Continued

Link to July 24 Politico post, "GOP losing the new-media war".

Republicans have no lack of would-be George F. Wills.

But what they really need are some more Robert D. Novaks.

The distinction between the two prominent conservative journalists isn't always obvious, but it's nevertheless important to understand: One almost exclusively writes opinion pieces, while the other offers reporting with a point of view.

The same might be said of the emerging differences between the conservative presence on the Internet and the liberal one: The right is engaged in the business of opining while the left features sites that offer a more reportorial model.

The article focuses on these two success stories. 1 2

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Tough Library Budget Ahead?

What about product placement, now that more of us are boutique-ing it?

Link to July 23 Boing Boing post, "Fox TV news anchors enjoy plastic coffee".

Excerpt: Why are these news anchors smiling? Because they've been given cups filled with a solid plastic material that resembles coffee.

Just think how nice these specimens would look at your service desks.

For McDonald's library rates, click here.

Cory Doctorow on "The Future of the Internet"

Link to July 23 Boing Boing post, "Zittrain's "The Future of the Internet" -- how to save the Internet from the Internet".

I've just finished reading Jonathan Zittrain's The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It, a provocative, well-reasoned, well-informed and sometimes frustrating book about the power of the Internet to allow people to be more effective at taking action -- whether that action is good or bad.

Zittrain fears that the power of the Internet to let creeps do bad things will lead to a regulatory backlash and a series of Draconian laws that take away all the social benefits of the Internet, and that this will be enabled by a consumer backlash against general-purpose PCs in favor of "tethered appliances" -- TiVos, iPhones, etc -- that grant a measure of security by taking away the user-modifiability that is at the heart of the principle of generativity.

Bequest benefits Neenah library

Neenah Public Library at night.

Link to July 23 Appleton Post-Crescent article.

Neenah woman who loved to read, garden and follow the career of Tiger Woods left a $150,000 bequest for the Neenah Public Library.

Library Director Stephen Proces said Tuesday that the donation from the Agnes M. Praiss estate was an unexpected but welcome gift.

"We are thrilled, of course," Proces said. "It was a total surprise. As far as we know, the lady was not a regular library user."

Proces said the money came without restrictions and was placed in the library's general trust fund. In recent years, the library board has used the trust fund to buy automation equipment like self-checkout machines.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COPA Back in the News

Link to July 22 Wired Blog Network post, "Net Censorship Law Struck Down Again".

A federal appeals court struck down as unconstitutional a Clinton-era law that would have forced websites with adult material to verify visitors' ages, dealing another blow to the government in a 10-year court battle over net censorship.

The 3rd U.S. Circurt Court of Appeals upheld on Tuesday a 2007 lower-court decision that the Child Online Protection Act violated the First Amendment since it was not the most effective way to keep children from visiting adult websites.

Both courts also found that the standards for material that had to be hidden from open browsing were so loosely defined that any content not suitable for a four-year-old would have been hidden behind a age-verification firewall.

"Unlike COPA, filters permit adults to determine if and when they want to use them and do not subject speakers to criminal or civil penalties," the court wrote.

Don't expect this bout to end any time soon, as the government plans to appeal the decision.

Read Digital Daily commentary, "What We Really Need is DOPA -- the DOJ Online Protection Act.

What's Your Take?

Link to July 22 post, "Are Google Maps good or evil?"

Pop quiz: do you feel more or less secure with the arrival of Google Maps and other online mapping services?

The first was from an outfit called Stop Child Predators, which launched a campaign to tell parents about the potential ills of Google Maps' Street View, which shows driver's-eye views of countless neighborhoods.

"This technology shows anyone in the world our communities, and exposes not only the routes from the bus stops to homes, but our children, without ever stepping foot in our neighborhoods," said Stacie Rumenap, the executive director of Stop Child Predators, in a statement.

On the other side was the announcement of, a new service from that said it shows where "sex offenders...thieves, violent offenders, murderers, or con artists" live in your neighborhood. The site shows people icons on a Google map; clicking an icon shows a person's photo, description, address, and criminal history.

According to the online poll accompanying the article, most of the respondents, 859 when I checked, are taking the Street View development in stride.

I just checked my home address. What a relief! They took the picture before the silver maples in the terrace were trimmed and Eddie seeded the bare spot next to the driveway. The evildoers will never recognize the place!

For a little street view fun, go here.
See also here: "Advocacy Group Claims Google Maps Is A Tool Of Child Predators".

Looking at the Newspaper World Through Rose-Colored Glasses

And seeing everything in black and white, ironically.

Link to July 22 post, "The Internet Is No Substitute for the Dying Newspaper Industry".

Newspapers, when well run, are a public trust. They provide, at their best, the means for citizens to examine themselves, to ferret out lies and the abuse of power by elected officials and corrupt businesses, to give a voice to those who would, without the press, have no voice, and to follow, in ways a private citizen cannot, the daily workings of local, state and federal government. Newspapers hire people to write about city hall, the state capital, political campaigns, sports, music, art and theater.

I think it's fair to say that few newspapers are "well run" anymore, and perhaps not that many, upon close inspection, ever were. (How long does it take you to read the Wisconsin State Journal, for example? How long did it take to read it 20 years ago? And remember the Milwaukee Sentinel? You'd have thought it was published in a community of 5,000, instead of one with more than half million residents.) Mr. Hedges seems to forget that newspaper owners are beholden to their advertisers, which leads to censorship and the need for reporting like this and this and this.

In this age of news-reporting as transcription, it's more important than ever for readers to do their own research -- and this is where the Internet is invaluable.

But don't forget to bring along your critical thinking skills.

Monday, July 21, 2008

#35 on the Reference Countdown

And sinking like a stone. (Sorry, Ben.)

Just after reading the B&T Continuations email re: the demise of Consumer Drug Reference, I found a flyer for this reference warhorse in the day's mail. [Add the grim glue factory comment here.]

No chance this title would make an unlikely 4th edition of my Top 40 Reference Countdown.

Another Sign of the Times

Link to 7/21 PW Online article, "LA Times to Fold Standalone Book Review".

Excerpt: According to a former staffer, the Los Angeles Times is folding its standalone Sunday book review section, laying off two dedicated book editors. The last standalone section will be July 27

And I remember, many years ago now, when the New York Times Book Review actually had some heft to it.

Yet Another Reason to Downsize Your Print Reference Collection

Baker & Taylor Continuations sent us an email today announcing that the Consumer Drug Reference will cease publication this year. The edition we received in December 2007 will be the last one in the series.

Written for the layperson, the Consumer Drug Reference was always a "must-have" title on my Top 40 Reference Countdown: The Best Print Sources. In its last edition, distributed to Jane Pearlmutter's UW-SLIS Collection Development class in 2006, this particular title was #9.

The Baker & Taylor email noted that a 2009 edition of The Complete Guide to Prescription and Nonprescription Drugs will be published. Not mentioned, however, is my alternative to the Consumer Drug Reference. According to the Countdown, I considered The Essential Guide to Prescription Drugs "an excellent title if you are pinched for funds". Apparently, this annual ceased publication with the 2006 edition, when it listed at $20.95, compared to $44.95 for the CDR.

Makes me wonder what other Top 40 titles have fallen by the wayside during the past 2 years.

Hey, here's another retirement project! If I'm so inclined.

Housing Slump Impacts Publisher

Link to 7/21 PW Online article, "Creative Homeowner Hammered".

Excerpt: The slump in virtually all areas of the housing market resulted in a steep drop in results at Creative Homeowner, with sales in the third quarter ended June 30 plunging 45%, to $3.7 million, and the company posting a loss of $3 million, parent company Courier Corp. reported. For the first nine months of the year, sales at Creative Homeowner were down 25%, to $15.7 million, and the company had a loss of $5.2 million.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Status Report on Cedar Rapids Public Library

Link to July 18 Cedar Rapids Gazette article and video, "Long road ahead for library".

There's an upside to seeing the Cedar Rapids Public Library as it is now — a vast shell studded with bare concrete pillars.

"It leaves it a lot more open to think, how can we do things differently?" said Library Board President Susan Corrigan.

Library board members and John Levy, managing director for Globe Midwest Risk Management, led reporters on a tour of the utterly empty building Friday afternoon.

Floodwaters reached 5 feet above the floor and, based on the marks on the wall, appear to have sloshed violently in the skylit lobby near the circulation desk.

Milwaukee Area Libraries Embrace RFID Technology

Link to July 20 JSOnline article, "Library uses microchips to manage materials".

Outside the West Allis Public Library [shown in picture above], Lisa Jones pushes a button to open a steel hatch and slides her books and movies, one at a time, onto the conveyor belt.

Within seconds, a computer checks in each item and reactivates its anti-theft device. It clears Jones’ account, spits out a receipt and then — just inside the building — propels each item into one of five bins, for reshelving or a truck en route to other libraries.

The sorting system, the first of its kind in Milwaukee County when it went live this month, is among the latest innovations in library operations — a smaller version of the complex material-handling systems that move luggage through airports and boxes through the massive distribution centers of UPS and FedEx.

Like many industries, public libraries are turning increasingly to automation to improve efficiency and lower costs. And while this forced job cuts in some communities, others say it has freed staff for more face-to-face work with patrons. (And this is indeed where the need is.)