Saturday, September 20, 2008

Paul Saffo on Texting (While Walking)

Link to September 19 Paul Saffo journal post, "Beware of PedTEXTrians!"

Lets face it, most of us have enough trouble doing one thing at a time. Put a phone in the hands of a walker, and the consequent diversion of attention lowers their IQ by 10 points. Put a Blackberry in their hand and the act of reading and typing while walking causes their IQ to plummet even further. There are just some things that shouldn’t be done at the same time. For example if you like to birdwatch while you hike, don’t get interested in mushroom hunting, or you will spend your entire time looking up and down, up and down. Walking while tweeting or texting or IMing is thus just plain dumb. Dumb, but not a crime.

[Paul Saffo is a forecaster and essayist with over two decades experience exploring long-term technological change and its practical impact on business and society. He teaches at Stanford University and is a Visiting Scholar in the Stanford Media X research network.]

Omro's Carter Memorial Library Looks to Expand

Aerial view of Omro

From the September 20 Oshkosh Daily Northwestern.

The Carter Memorial Library, 405 E. Huron St., will hold a town hall meeting at 6 p.m. Monday [September 22] to find out what people want in an expanded library.

The meeting will give residents an opportunity to tell what amenities they'd like in the library and which areas they'd like expanded. A consultant will be on hand to seek public opinion. The results of the meeting will be included in a recommendation to the library board and the Omro City Council.

The library began its facility study in September with Durrant Architects of Madison [click on "portfolio", then "libraries"] and expects a final report in November, according to a news release from the library.

[During the years I lived in Oshkosh (1978-1986), Omro was a regular biking destination. Sometimes we even included a swing through Winneconne.]

Friday, September 19, 2008

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Show Me the Money

The Carnegie Library of Homestead (Pennsylvania) doesn't appear to be your ordinary library. It includes an athletic club (fitness center and swimming pool) and music hall as part of its operations.

According to an article in today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the library board laid off its Executive Director and Library Director (these are two separate positions) to address the loss of $300,000 in its investment fund. ("Investment losses prompt two layoffs at Homestead library".) The new library management model: a team of six members of the Board.

Library Board President noted that this move will save approximately $100,000. (Does this figure include benefits? What were they paying these folks?)

Here's how the article describes the library's financials.

The library has an annual budget of $650,000 to $680,000, but this year that amount rose to about $800,000 because of "projected increased revenues that were overzealous," Mr. Lloyd said.

About $30,000 of that budget comes from support from the local municipalities of Munhall, Homestead and West Homestead. Munhall, the largest contributor, provides $17,000.

Some of the annual budget also comes from the endowment, though Mr. Lloyd did not say how much. But for now, the library board hopes to balance the budget without touching the endowment.

According to this website, the total population of the 3 municipalities listed above is 18,030. (Munhall, 12264; Homestead, 3569; West Homestead 2197.) That averages out to less than $1 per capita in local support.

I'd love to see a detailed breakdown of revenues and expenditures. All I could find, though, is a spreadsheet of state aid to Pennsylvania public libraries through this webpage. The Allegheny County Library Association, of which the Carnegie Library of Homestead is a member, received $5,726, 916 in state aid in fiscal year 2007-2008. I found no breakdown as to how the money was distributed to member libraries.

Makes you wonder why Mr. Lloyd is so evasive. Minimal local funding. Indeterminate endowment funding. Where is the rest of the money? And were the Executive Director's and Library Director's salaries paid from the endowment account? This story raises a whole lot more questions than it answers.

Anyone else curious?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fitchburg, Cottage Grove Library Referenda

The current configuration of Dane County public libraries.

Are you an optimist?

Then you'll prefer the headline at the online version of the Capital Times: "Fitchburg, Cottage Grove optimistic about library fundraising". (Note: The Fitchburg link wouldn't open for me.)

Are you a pessimist?

Then pick up the print version: "Booked for failure? Some say now's a bad time to raise money for new Fitchburg, Cottage Grove libraries."

"One of the first things that people ask when they move here is, 'Where is the public library?'" [president of the Friends of the Cottage Grover Community Library Anne] Schoenemann said. "It is something that people value and expect to have. I think it is something we are ready to invest in."

But Kathleen Woit, president of the Madison Community Foundation, which each year contributes more than $10 million to Dane County, U.S. and global causes, said the timing isn't the best.

"I wouldn't think that anyone would start a capital campaign right now," Woit said. "The economy overall is not getting any better."

Woit said that while a slew of major local campaigns are just wrapping up, including the Goodman Community Center on Madison's east side and the Lussier Community Education Center on the west side, few new campaign launches are appearing on the horizon.

In the coming year, Woit said the foundation will continue to contribute to local causes "but won't have any extra money." Those that will get funding are likely those that have been in the planning pipeline for two to three years.

"I am telling people not to start anything new," Woit said.

Congratulations to Menasha's Elisha D. Smith Public Library

....on its selection as the Wisconsin Library Association's Library of the Year for 2008.

Link to September 17 Appleton Post-Crescent article, "Menasha's 'vibrant' library tops in state: expansion, customer service pay off".

She [Kathy Hannah, reference librarian] praised the leadership of Tasha Saecker, whom she called "technologically proactive. She has helped us all become a little more tech-savvy.

"We like to think of our ourselves as roving librarians," Hannah said. "Instead of just situating ourselves at a desk, we're out and about helping people find the information that they're looking for."

Hannah said the library has greatly expanded its creative programming in the past year with Saecker's support. "We now have a movie series, music in the library series, we have ongoing computer classes and we try to bring in speakers that deal with (timely) issues," she said.

"We're very customer-focused," said De Dallum, a reference librarian and 30-year library employee. "We really, really try to be user-friendly to our patrons, to go out of our way to help them. The whole staff is like that. We just try to treat them like we would like to be treated."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Survey Says....

.....attentive public service is an essential part of every workplace. (In so many words, by my account.)

Link to money post, "5 ways rude cashiers rile shoppers".
1. Not making eye contact.
2. Answering the phone.
3. Chatting to other clerks.
4. Not counting change back.
5. Walking past shoppers who need help.

Make some connections and think about your own situation. What's your library's public service quotient?

The Davenport (IA) Public Library provides a comprehensive list of "Standards of Library Customer Service" here.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Survey Says....

.....that teens can't live without their cells phones, according to a September 15, CNET news post, "Teens view cell phones as essential".

Excerpt: The wireless trade association CTIA and Harris Interactive surveyed some 2,000 teens across the country and learned that teens feel that cell phones have become a vital part of their identities. They also believe that they can gauge a peer's popularity or status by the phone he or she uses.

Specific findings:
1. Teen status indicators (in rank order, high to low): clothing, cell phones, jewelry, watches, shoes.

2. The numbers (based on survey sample)
  • 80% (Teens who carry a wireless device)
  • 57% (Mobility has improved teens' quality of life.)
  • 52% (Cell phones are a new form of entertainment.)
  • 80% (Cell phones provide a sense of security, with "needing a ride" mentioned most often.)
  • 36% (Dislike the idea of a cell phone pinpointing their exact location.)

3. Texting is replacing talking.
  • Equal amount of time spent doing both.
  • Texting is preferred for the options it provides (multitaking, speed, avoiding verbal communication, it's fun)
  • Life without texting: 47% of teens say their social lives would end or be worsened.
  • 42% of teens say they can text blind-folded.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Survey Says....

....."One in five bosses screen applicants' Web lives", according to a September 11 Reuters news story found here.

Specific findings:
  • survey of 3,169 hiring managers found 22 percent screened applicants via social networking profiles. (11% did so according to a 2006 survey.)
  • 9% of managers said they don't do this kind of screening now but plan to start.
  • 34% of managers who screen said they eliminated candidates as a result of their searches.
  • Top area of concern: drinking and drug use.
  • Next on the list: provocative or inappropriate photographs or information.
  • Followed by poor communication skills, lying about qualifications, candidates using discriminatory remarks related to race, gender or religion, and an unprofessional screen name.
  • On the other hand, 24% of managers who screen said their searches solidified candidates' prospects. Reasons given: good communications skills, professional image, wide range of interests.

The Latest on Palin & Libraries

Link to September 14 New York Times article, "Once Elected, Palin Hired Friends and Lashed Foes". (You'll want to read the full article.)

The new mayor also tended carefully to her evangelical base. She appointed a pastor to the town planning board. And she began to eye the library. For years, social conservatives had pressed the library director to remove books they considered immoral.

People would bring books back censored,” recalled former Mayor John Stein, Ms. Palin’s predecessor. “Pages would get marked up or torn out.”

Witnesses and contemporary news accounts say Ms. Palin asked the librarian about removing books from the shelves. The McCain-Palin presidential campaign says Ms. Palin never advocated censorship.

But in 1995, Ms. Palin, then a city councilwoman, told colleagues that she had noticed the book “Daddy’s Roommate” on the shelves and that it did not belong there, according to Ms. Chase and Mr. Stein. Ms. Chase read the book, which helps children understand homosexuality, and said it was inoffensive; she suggested that Ms. Palin read it.

“Sarah said she didn’t need to read that stuff,” Ms. Chase said. “It was disturbing that someone would be willing to remove a book from the library and she didn’t even read it.”