Friday, August 22, 2008

Florida Report on E-Government and Libraries

Link to August 22 post, "E-Government at Florida Libraries: More Support, Coordination Needed".

Amelia Gibson and Drs. John Carlo Bertot and Charles R. McClure, with other Information Institute staff at Florida State University, recently completed a study, Florida Public Libraries and E–Government: Services, Issues, and Recommendations, which suggests that libraries have become more than simply access points to government information and forms but places where residents seek program assistance.

The challenge for libraries, as we've seen it at Middleton, is providing the staff time for those people who require extensive assistance -- and whose first response is likely to be "I know nothing about computers". I don't think our best long-term response is "you'll need to have a friend or family member help you out". But with most libraries, whose staffs are already stretched thin just managing busy public access computer operations, it's sometimes the best worst option we can offer. Many libraries now offer one-on-one instruction, in addition to computer classes (which have their own limits in addressing personal needs), but neither is going to help the person expecting to leave the library satisfied.

The report recommends that libraries reach a statewide consensus on how best to provide e-government services and resources; service levels could vary by library size, numbers of public access computers available. It suggests that libraries within the state form a consortium to maintain e-government resources and exchange best practices. It recommends that libraries and state agencies should collaborate on the design and implementation of e-government services and resources, which could lead to better support for librarians needing assistance.

It also recommends increased library staff training in e-government, with the help of local and state agencies. Finally, national, state and local governments should directly support libraries as providers of e-government services and resources. One possibility “is to implement an agency charge-back mechanism, similar to efforts in which government agencies routinely engage through outsourced services.”

The WLA Library Development & Legislation Committee has talked about this issue, particularly as it applies to libraries and state agencies. I think we have an opportunity to work with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development in the redesign of its jobs website (DWD stafff will be the first to admit it's seriously out of date) and the revamping of its job assistance resources.

What e-government discussions are taking place within other WLA units? In other state library organizations?

Related reading.
Addressing the need for staff training: "Florida E-Government: Does it turn librarians into inept social workers?" at LibraryLaw blog, May 22, 2007, post.

Collection Development Suggestion(s)

(Kudos on the cover design!)

A new edition of the Harry Harrison novel, first published in 1966, on which the 1973 movie Soylent Green is based.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

An Expensive Way to Build a Library

Link to August 21 The Smoking Gun post, "Book Her, Dan-O: Wisconsin woman, 20, arrested for two overdue library volumes".

Paging Led Zeppelin

As someone who uses his cell phone discriminately, I rather enjoyed this article's viewpoint.

Link to August 21 post, "Communication Breakdown: How Cell Phones Hurt Communities".

Billions of people across the world use cell phones. In some European countries, the number of cell phones in use is higher than the total number of people living there. Though cell phones can be wonderful, liberating tools of communication, freeing us from the confines of an office, and providing more leisure time, they often do the exact opposite. Cell phone use has blurred the boundaries between work and non-work time, increasing stress and tension within families and between friends. As Noelle Chesley, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, explained in a report on CBS News, "The question of 'blurred boundaries' may become an irrelevant one for the next generation of workers, spouses, and parents because they cannot imagine life any other way." As Slate commented in his Adbusters essay, "It seems the more 'connected' we are, the more detached we become."

Belated Birthday Greetings to the CD

Link to August 19 MAXIMUMPC post, "CD Turns 26 and It Still Won't Die".

Another birthday for the CD has come and gone and yet the damn things just won’t die. On Aug. 17th, 1982, the Compact Disc was born into an age of rampant consumerism that was the 1980s. Big hair was in, big vinyl and the big snarls of tape from cassettes was out.

The CD of course wasn’t without its drawbacks. They disliked abuse and absolutely had to live in their cases. I replaced the bulk of my CDs with my first car player before going back to cassette so I could dub my own playlists and stop spending money on music I had already bought. Even the players then were delicate. My car CD player touted a 3 second anti-skip buffer for those canyons in the road called potholes. Of course back in east Texas they had washboard roads that could eat up that buffer and just ruin AC/DC’s Who Made Who.

What Next? Scarlet Letters?

Link to August 1 Guardian post, "Children's writers, don't misbehave".

Apparently, a well-established, enormous publishing house has decided to insert the following clause into its standard contract for children's books: "If you act or behave in a way which damages your reputation as a person suitable to work with or be associated with children, and consequently the market for or value of the work is seriously diminished, and we may (at our option) take any of the following actions: Delay publication / Renegotiate advance / Terminate the agreement."

Hmmm. This pronouncement is made at a time when it seems as though everyone -- including Madonna (no gloss needed here) and Laura Bush (who, at a minimum, probably inhaled) -- seems to be writing a children's book?

Mining Other People's Business

Link to August 19 Internet Evolution post, "For Those Who Think They're Password Protected".

In answer to the question, "Have you ever logged into someone's email or social networking account without his or her knowledge?", 42% of Internet Evolution readers said yes.

Best comment: I worked with a security analyst and he had this phrase on his desk, framed for all to see: Passwords are like underwear. Change them often, don't share them and don't leave them out for everyone to see.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Time Spent Reading Newspapers Online

The Economist (August 24, 2006)

Link to August 20 Editor & Publisher post, "EXCLUSIVE From Nielsen: Nearly Half of Top 30 Newspaper Sites Decline in 'Time Spent' ."

Most time spent:, 32 minutes and 3 seconds

Least time spent: (website of the Lexington Herald-Leader), 2 minutes and 2 seconds.

Biggest gainer:
Houston Chronicle
July 2008, 25 minutes and 21 seconds
July 2007, 14 minutes and 20 seconds

Biggest loser:
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
July 2008, 9 minutes and 55 seconds
July 2007, 23 minutes and 9 seconds

Related links.

Internet Public Library newspaper collection.

"Should I Cancel My Newspaper Subscription? The environmental pros and cons of reading online" at

And this painful reality check from Business Week.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Try These Alternatives to the Pie Chart

Link to August 19 Flowing Data post, "3 Worthwhile Alternatives to the Pie Chart".

Stacked Bar Chart

Bubble Chart

Satisfaction with Search Sites

Link to August 19 CNET post, "Google tops among search sites for customer satisfaction".

Add the University of Michigan's annual American Customer Satisfaction Index for the e-business sector to the list of surveys that show Google is doing really, really well.

The ACSI, set to be released early Tuesday, puts Google at the top of the heap for customer satisfaction in the big search and portals category. Google's score of 87 out of 100 (based on interviews with 3,000 customers) is one of the highest scores ever recorded by the ACSI.

For the e-business sector as a whole (including search and portals and a second category for news and information sites), the survey paints an improving picture: customer satisfaction improved 5.5 percent from 2007 to 79.3 this year on the ACSI's 100-point scale. That's a 25.9 percent jump since e-businesses were added to the survey in 2000.

Sidelight: Customer satisfaction scores by industry found here.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Newspaper Readership Continues to Decline

Link to August 17 Editor & Publisher post, "Pew's Latest Survey: More Bad News for Newspapers ."

Percentage of survey respondents who say they read a newspaper on a regular basis:
48% in 2008
52% in 2006
71% in 1992

Percentage of those respondents (in 2008) who read a newspaper yesterday (by age)
15% (under 25)
24% (25-34)
46% (50+)

Among the 25-34 age group, 16% read an online newspaper yesterday vs. 12% who read a paper version.

Online newspapers are gaining readership but not enough to make up for the loss of print readers. And perhaps this is a reason why: "Pew Survey Challenges Notion That More Young People Getting News SOMEWHERE".

(Companion article here: "Pew Survey Finds That Viewers of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert Score High on News Knowledge".)

The full Pew report is here.