Saturday, September 13, 2008

Well-Traveled Library Thief to be Sentenced

Aerial view of WWU campus

Link to September 13 Great Falls (MT) Tribune article, "Library thief to pay dues: Sentencing scheduled for Monday".


A librarian from Western Washington University who helped crack a widespread document theft case is relieved the matter is nearly resolved.

Librarian Robert Lopresti on Friday declined to express anger toward the Great Falls thief but estimated his library staff has spent 1,000 hours dealing with the crimes.

"I think he could have found a better way to make money," Lopresti said. The librarian was in Great Falls Tuesday through Friday, identifying about one-third of more than 600 documents stolen from the university's library in Bellingham, north of Seattle, two years ago.

The well-traveled defendant, James Brubaker of Great Falls, is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court Monday in Great Falls.

According to the aritcle, Brubaker accumulated a collection of at least 800 items stolen from 100 academic and public libraries.

Bleak 2009 Outlook for Wisconsin's Cities

Not a Pretty Picture Inside

Link to September 13 Superior Daily Telegram post, "Cities feel stress of state budget woes".

Staff and members of the Wisconsin Alliance of Cities gathered in Superior this week to set priorities for the upcoming state legislative session.

Among the issues discussed was revising the shared revenue formula, and paying for a regional transit system through sales rather than property taxes.

“This 2009 is going to be the worst possible year and the perfect storm is that after all these years of no (shared) revenue increases, we wound up with 2 percent levy limits … created by gubernatorial veto,” said Ed Huck, Wisconsin Alliance of Cities director. “On top of that we’ve had one of the worst winters in terms of snowfall … then on top of that, you had the flooding. So what’s happened is reserves are at rock bottom.”

Hold That Thought

The more things change..........

Link to September 13 New York Times article, "In Digital Age, Federal Files Blip Into Oblivion".

Many federal officials admit to a haphazard approach to preserving e-mail and other electronic records of their work. Indeed, many say they are unsure what materials they are supposed to preserve.

This confusion is causing alarm among historians, archivists, librarians, Congressional investigators and watchdog groups that want to trace the decision-making process and hold federal officials accountable. With the imminent change in administrations, the concern about lost records has become more acute.

One example cited: 50 broken links to article on ozone depletion on the Environmental Protection Agency's website.

American Library Association Preservation Policy here.

About the National Archives and Records Administration.

Link to Library of Congress Digital Preservation page.

And it's not as though the topic has suddenly sprung into view. Link to a 1996 report of Task Force on Archiving Digital Information. (pdf file)

Friday, September 12, 2008

This Story has Legs

It must be a sore point among Republican focus group participants.

Link to September 12 AP story posted on, "GOP campaign downplays Palin book-banning inquiry".


Still, one longtime library staffer recalls that the run-in made everyone fear for their jobs.

"Mayor Palin gave us some terrible moments and some rather gut-wrenching moments, particularly when Mary Ellen said she was going to have to leave," said Cathy Petrie, who managed the children's collection at the time.

Recent outrage has been fueled by Wasilla housewife Anne Kilkenny, whose 2,400-word critique of Palin's legacy as mayor is widely posted on the Internet. Kilkenny described Palin's actions as "out-and-out censorship."

She Certainly Should Have Known Better

Link to September 11 Palm Beach (FL) Post article, "Librarians irked colleague sent unverified Palin e-mail".


A Palm Beach County School District library manager set off an e-mail controversy this week when she sent school librarians a list of books Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin allegedly tried to ban as mayor of a small Alaska town.

Problem was the list turned out to be a hoax. It included Harry Potter books that weren't yet published when Palin had an exchange with the Wasilla librarian about removing books.

Janeen Pelser said she was speaking against censorship, not engaging in partisan politics, when she forwarded an e-mail titled "here's the list of Books SARAH PALIN wanted banned ... VERY IMPORTANT" to dozens of media specialists on Tuesday.

Several school librarians quickly responded with links debunking the list and admonishments to Pelser to fact check before distributing information. (My emphasis.)

Good advice!

The Real Horror

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Comrades in the Sky

"Not here, Buster!"

Link to September 11 Los Angeles Times article, "Coffee, tea or pornography?"

American is one of several airlines experimenting with Internet service. While some, such as JetBlue, are using filtering software, others, including American, are leaving it up to flight attendants to monitor. American spokesman Tim Smith explained the company's decision this way in an e-mail:

"Our policy is to provide Wi-Fi capabilities the way customers are most familiar using [them] at home, office, coffee shops and on the road -- with unfiltered connections that allow customers to get what they need, when they need it. While it does provide a new access point for information and content, customers viewing inappropriate material onboard a flight is not a new scenario for our crews who have always managed this issue with great success."

Unfortunately, the article offers no examples of how this "great success" is achieved.

And then there's this rant from an August 30 gizmodo post I stumbled upon.

Google's Newspaper Digitization Project

Link to September 8 Reuters news stories posted at


Maybe They Think Flannery is a Man's Name

The 75th anniversary issue of celebrity-women-loving Esquire magazine (available soon if not already) features a list of 75 Books That Every Man Should Read.

According to the compilers of this list, real men only read books by male authors............with this exception.

Maybe they just like the book's title.

Major omissions that I can think of right off the top of my head.

I know, I know. Still no more books written by women.

So let me also offer this title. It's certainly better than reading Hemingway again.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I Didn't Place a Hold on This Book

Clarke is a former communications director with the Pentagon in the early years of the Bush administration and a former advisor to Senator John McCain.


Just Placed a Hold on This Book

Link to where I learned about it. (Thanks again, boingboing.)

Grounded in history and science, True Enough paints a dismal picture of a species with a limitless capacity for self-deception and selective reasoning. But Manjoo doesn't ascribe the rise of truthiness to fragmented media alone: he calls out PR firms, media outlets and others who have profited from the erosion of the truth.

Sounds like some timely reading, especially as we're going through another "here-we-go-again" moment. P. T. Barnum would be so proud of us.

And as long as I'm the topic of reading.....

In reference to this post.....

After reading the first 3 stories, I can report that "Knockemstiff" by Donald Ray Pollock is some powerful stuff. Let me put it this way. Pollock is like Flannery O'Connor on acid -- and I mean this as the ultimate compliment! (Nobody writes better than Flannery.)

County Library Funding, Part Whatever

Wisconsin Public Library Systems

Link to September 4 Winona (MN) Daily News article, "Statewide borrowing system costing libraries".

A state law that allows public libraries to charge back fees for every book or other borrowed material checked out by nonresidents is causing headaches for budget planners struggling to balance expenses.

Buffalo County Board Chair Del Twidt calls the fees a “bone of contention.”

Buffalo County taxpayers spent $62,000 on nonresident library fees in 2008 and can figure on paying more than $66,000 in 2009, according to numbers reviewed by the county’s finance and budget committee.

The county board recently directed the finance committee to investigate the county’s cost of all public library expenses, including membership in the seven-county Winding Rivers Library System.

Monday, September 8, 2008

One More Reason to be Suspicious About Unverified Stuff You Find Floating Around on the Internet

Link to a post that debunks a list of the books that were allegedly banned from the Wasilla Public Library by Mayor Sarah Palin.

Link to a list of "Books Banned at One Time or Another in the United States."

And kudos to Jessamyn West for her skepticism!

If nothing else, it got Michelle Mau-Mau's* undies in a bundle -- once again. (As in *)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Man Behind A Collection Development Staple

Link to September 7 obituary in the New York Times, "Ralph Kovel, 88, Wrote Antiques Guides".


Though the Kovels tracked the prices of some expensive items, like 18th-century furniture, they focused overwhelmingly on ordinary things for ordinary collectors, the artifacts — some would say the detritus — of everyday American life. Through these objects, as the Kovels’ work revealed, it is possible to trace the arc of the country’s social history.

Consider Barbie’s girdle. [You'll need to add the search term.] In the doll’s early years — she was introduced in 1959 — one could buy a miniature elastic girdle as an accessory. By the late 20th century, when even Barbie had felt the stirrings of the women’s movement, the girdle was no longer made. In 1996, as Mrs. Kovel said in an interview with The Plain Dealer of Cleveland that year, that tiny scrap of elastic was worth $75.

The Barbie doll initially sold for $3 in 1959.