Saturday, September 12, 2009

Librarian Downplays Lawyers' Efforts to Exonerate "Shoeless Joe" Jackson

Link to September 12 article, "Campaign to exonerate Shoeless Joe Jackson".

Excerpt: National Baseball Hall of Fame librarian Jim Gates said several researchers who have examined the papers have said nothing to suggest they will clear Jackson, who died in 1951. And at the Chicago History Museum, which purchased the documents from Asinof's estate after his death in 2008, curator Peter Alter said there's no "smoking gun" that exonerates Jackson.

Could You Translate That Into English for Me?

Link to September 11 New York Times article, "Goodbye, Gobbledygook".

Excerpt: The fact tag sits next to PCs at stores like Best Buy and Fry’s, bewildering one consumer after another. It trumpets things like DDR2 RAM, 5400 r.p.m. hard drives, Turion benchmark scores and the robust L2 cache sizes of Core 2 Duos.

Once cherished, the fact tag has turned into an object of scorn as PC makers finally reach a realization that many other industries discovered ages ago: the consumer is truly king.

Pennsylvania Budget Stalement and Free Library of Philadelphia's Call to Action

Read it and weep. (Excerpt: We deeply regret to inform you that without the necessary budgetary legislation by the State Legislature in Harrisburg, the City of Philadelphia will not have the funds to operate our neighborhood branch libraries, regional libraries, or the Parkway Central Library after October 2, 2009.)

Library Reading Programs Prevent the "Summer Slide"

Link to September 12 Capital Times article, "For the love of books".

For Fitchburg's Susan Smedberg, keeping track of her 6-year-old daughter's reading is nearly impossible. Emily reads when she gets up. She reads in the car. She reads when she is walking from the car to the house.

Emily's love of reading developed in large part, her mother says, from the Madison Public Library's summer reading program. Emily, who just started first grade at Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Elementary School on Madison's west side, was at a critical point in her reading development last year when she enrolled in the program.

Emily, who couldn't read on her own yet, got hooked on the "Rainbow Magic" chapter book series about fairies and at the end of the program selected her own "Rainbow Magic" book. "Because she got one for herself to keep, there was no stopping her," says Smedberg.

Programs like Madison's try to lessen "summer reading loss," known in library and education circles as "the summer slide." Research shows that students, particularly low-income children, who don't continue to read over the summer lose reading skills and face other setbacks. A number of studies show that summer reading loss is cumulative. By the end of sixth grade, kids who lose reading skills summer after summer can be a year behind their classmates.

Friday, September 11, 2009

"Four score and seven years ago....."

......began Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address.

Link to msnbc.c0m story, "Steal this story? Beware Net’s plagiarism ‘cops: Increasing number of sites are on the lookout for stolen words, phrases".

Excerpt: They scour the Web in search of stolen phrases, dig through documents looking for evidence of looting. They can’t issue citations, but they can certainly let you know if you’ve failed to include one.

Yes, the plagiarism police are on the job.

The practice of copying, imitating or blatantly stealing the original work and/or ideas of others is, to borrow a phrase, as popular as sliced bread, according to statistics compiled by In fact, in a study of 4,500 high school students and 1,800 college students, more than half admitted to copying work from the Web without proper attribution.

State Government Enters the Streamlined Era

Less filling

Link to September 11 post, "Weekly Wrap: Streamlining state government".

Excerpt: More and more state leaders from both political parties are talking about changing the face of state government as the recession severely limits the services states can offer.

“Indiana will have fewer dollars to work with in 2011 than we did in 2007,” Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) recently told a gathering of state capitol reporters in Indianapolis, according to The Statesman-Journal of Salem, Ore. “That says you cannot have the same government you had, unless you plan to go broke.”

“Mitch Daniels is right,” Oregon’s Democratic governor, Ted Kulongoski, told the newspaper.

Both governors are trying to “streamline” state government to make it more efficient. Daniels has pushed for outsourcing more state services — the Hoosier State already has privatized the 157-mile Indiana Toll Road — and called for small school districts to merge. Kulongoski wants to eliminate 18 state panels and commissions and suspend or consolidate dozens of others, KUOW radio reported.

Michigan Library Supporters Rally for MeL

Link to September 11 Lansing State Journal article, "Librarians raise voices".

Excerpt: Hundreds of librarians and library advocates urged state legislators Thursday to maintain the current $10 million in local library funding for the upcoming budget year.

[A buzzer sounds.]

Let's hear what Larry Neal, Michigan Library Association president, has to say. (Quote in this 9/11 post.)

“We came to the Capitol steps today to ask the Governor and the Legislature to save MeL – the online library that’s accessible anytime, anywhere, and MeLCat, the statewide interlibrary loan system. Both of these services are at risk of collapsing if we do not receive $10 million in state aid to libraries – money that secures $5 million in federal funding for these vital programs.”

Video Game Industry Struggles during Great Recession

Link to September 11 cnet news post, "Video games take another big hit in August".

Excerpt: The video game industry is having trouble reversing its poor showing over the past few months.

Industrywide revenue in August slipped 16 percent year over year, market researcher NPD Group reported Thursday. And total year-to-date sales were down 14 percent.

Neither software nor hardware could stop the industry's slide. Hardware sales came in at $297.6 million for the month--down 25 percent compared with August 2008. Video game sales brought in $470.32 million--a 15 percent hit, year over year.

E-Book Readers: Still a Niche Device

Link to September 11 cnet news post, "E-book readers still owned by a small niche".

Excerpt: The tech industry buzzes a lot about e-book readers. But how widely are they actually used?

Among 1,529 consumers who responded to a July 2009 questionnaire from research firm In-Stat, only 5.8 percent currently own an e-book reader. And only 11 percent of those questioned said they planned to buy one in the next 12 months, according to the In-Stat report released this week.

Those low results may be even more significant given that In-Stat's survey audience consisted of high-end consumers who typically adopt new technology earlier than the general public.

Another study released last week by Forrester discovered that consumers find e-book readers much too expensive. Extrapolating from the 4,706 U.S. consumers questioned, Forrester found that almost 65 percent of U.S. adults online would consider a price of $98 or less too expensive for an e-book reader but would still purchase one.

St. Croix: Wisconsin's Fastest Growing County

Link to September 10 article from the Hudson Star-Observer. (You'll need to register for a free account to access full text.)

Excerpt: The Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) has released Jan. 1, 2009, population estimates for towns, villages, cities and counties and St. Croix County remains the state’s fastest growing.

With a 26.5 percent population gain since the 2000 Census, St. Croix is the state’s fastest-growing county by percentage increase. St. Croix’s preliminary estimate for Jan. 1, 2009, is 79,905, compared to the 2000 Census estimate of 63,155 (+16,750).

Calumet County is ranked as the second fastest-growing county at 14.8 percent (+6,011). Chippewa County is ranked fourth on the list, but DOA indicates its growth is influenced by large institutional population change (i.e. a prison, etc.). Polk is ranked fifth with an 11.9 percent increase (+4,912).

You'd think this growth would justify giving some attention to the space needs of the Hudson Area Joint Library. But you'd be wrong. (Read the first 5 paragraphs of letter #2.)

Former Wausau Reporter Writes Book About Green Bay Murder

Link to September 11 Wausau Daily Herald article.

Excerpt: The work [as a reporter for the Daily Herald from 1985 to 1988] gave him confidence as a writer, and it put him on the road that ultimately led him to Wausau again, this time while writing a book about a chilling gang-rape and murder that features dogged lawmen, brutal motorcycle gang members and a 35-year-old victim who grew up in Montana.

The book, "Torture at the Back Forty," was released in August. It scrutinizes in detail the killing of Margaret Anderson the night after Christmas in 1983 at the Back Forty bar in downtown Green Bay. In the book, Dauplaise follows law enforcement officers as they track down the man eventually convicted of the murder, Randy Whiting, who was captured in August of 1984 outside of Antigo. Dauplaise will sign copies of his books Sept. 19 at two Wausau area book stores.

A search of the Wisconsin Valley Library System's V-Cat (online catalog) reveals that Duplaise's book is not yet available at any member library.

The Brown County Public Library online catalog shows 27 holds on 20 copies.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Indiana Supreme Court to Review Indianapolis Public Library Case

Link to September 9 AP article in Fort Wayne Journal Gazette.

Excerpt: The Indiana Supreme Court will decide whether engineering subcontractors should be held liable for millions of dollars in cost overruns in a recent renovation of Indianapolis' central public library.

The court will hear oral arguments in the $25 million lawsuit Sept. 15.

The library sued the subcontractors following $50 million in cost overruns stemming from construction defects in the main library's underground garage.

Louisville Main Library to Reopen Mezzanine and Second Floor

Link to September 10 Louisville Courier article, "More areas of Main Library to open".

Excerpt: Two weeks after the Main Library reopened the first floor to public access after flash flooding Aug. 4 damaged the building, the second floor and mezzanine area will be reopened to patrons beginning Friday.

The second floor contains the library’s extensive nonfiction collection, as well as the Kentucky history and business collections, reference materials, genealogical resources and the computer learning center.

The elevators, which were damaged in the flood, remain inoperable, so patrons need to be able to use one of four stairways that access the second floor. Library staff will be able to retrieve materials from the second floor for patrons who are unable to use the stairs.

Completion of Elevator Repair Brightens Library Director's Day in Warren, PA


Link to September 10 (Warren, PA) Times Observer article, "Library's elevator is elevating again".

Excerpt: Finally, some good news for Warren Public Library.

Repair of the library's elevator - which services all floors in the building - has been completed sooner than expected. And with no additional costs.

"They came to me this morning and said, 'We're done," Warren Library director Patty Sherbondy said Wednesday. "I had to pick myself off the floor and say, 'Really?' It's nice to have something other than doom and gloom for a change."

The doom and gloom?
State budget impasse.
Possibility of major cuts to local library funding.

"World's Strongest Librarian"

Read about Josh Hanagarne in the 9/9/09 Salt Lake Tribune, "Hefting kettlebells, hitting the books".

Then take a look at his blog, "World's Strongest Librarian".

Josh and RG have 1 thing in common -- a love of "A Confederacy of Dunces".

Excerpt from Tribune article. Raised in a bookish household where trips to the library were a family tradition, Hanagarne loves books for the way they bring a mind in focus, and also how they reveal truths about people who read them. He believes the titles on his four-favorite-books list -- Confederacy of Dunces , Blood Meridian , Catch-22 , Don Quixote -- reveal more about him than he could say about himself.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

D23: Great Job, Becky; I'm Jealous!

Link to September 8 New York Times article, "Blowing the Pixie Dust Off Disney’s Archives".

Excerpt: Wearing white gloves, Becky Cline, manager of the sprawling repository, gently opened a crate containing the giant bejeweled storybook used for the opening scene of “Sleeping Beauty,” the animated classic from 1959. “We have to be really, really careful with this,” Ms. Cline said, almost in a whisper.

The prop, along with dozens of other specimens from Disney films that have long been kept under lock and key, will headline an unusual exhibition of memorabilia that opens on Thursday and runs through the weekend at the Anaheim Convention Center in Southern California. Also included: the coonskin cap that Fess Parker wore as Davy Crockett (leading to a national craze), Annette Funicello’s Mouseketeer shirt, a costume from the 1950s TV series “Zorro” and the four-wheeled star of “The Love Bug.”

Monroe County (WI) has to pare $518K from budget

Link to
Excerpt: The state only allowed the county a 3% increase over the 2009 levy, giving it a $14,955,301 cap. The mil rate on that amount is $5.972 per $1,000 of equalized value, holding steady over last year's rate of $5.977.
Didn't get the memo?
Even though the finance committee held departments to a 0% increase over their 2009 budgets, the clerk of courts, circuit court and district attorney's office each came in with bigger budgets.

The district attorney asked for a $73,000 budget increase to cover two and a half new positions. The clerk of courts requested a $29,000 increase for a new position beginning July 1.

Looks Like Some Library Fiction Shelves are Due for Shifting

Link to September 9 AP article in the Oshkosh Northwestern, "Author Patterson to write 17 books in 3 years".

Excerpt: "Jim has all of these incredible franchises," says his literary representative, Washington attorney Robert Barnett, who cited such popular series as "Maximum Ride," "Daniel X" and the Alex Cross detective stories. "And when you put all of those franchises together, that’s a lot of books."

Hachette announced Tuesday that the ultra-prolific novelist will turn out 10 adult thrillers, one nonfiction work and six novels for young people by the end of 2012. Financial terms were not disclosed.

My loss, perhaps, but Retiring Guy has never been able to figure out what all the fuss is about here. I'll take Myron Bolitar over Alex Cross any day.

Nekoosa Library Hosts Tailgating Fundraiser

Link to September 9 Wisconsin Rapids Tribune article.

The Charles and JoAnn Lester Library will host a fundraising tailgate party from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday at Humke Elementary School prior to the Nekoosa Papermakers football game.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Rally Planned to Maintain Michigan Department of History, Arts and Libraries

Link to September 8 AP article in South Bend Tribune, "Groups plan to rally this week".

Librarians opposed to Gov. Jennifer Granholm's plan to dismantle the Michigan Department of History, Arts and Libraries plan to rally this week on the eve of a deadline to kill the measure.

They say dismantling the agency and dispersing its functions among a half-dozen other state agencies make questionable financial sense. It also would deal a heavy blow to invaluable public resources, including the Library of Michigan and services for the blind and physically handicapped.

Lousville Free Library Flood-Recovery Fund Closes in on $100,000

Link to September 7 Louisville Courier-Journal article.

Excerpt: Since the Main Library was heavily damaged in the Aug. 4 flash flooding, the Louisville Free Public Library Foundation has received contributions to a flood-recovery fund totaling nearly $100,000.

“The outpouring of support has been tremendous,” Mayor Jerry Abramson said of the money, which has come from more than 500 groups and individuals in 22 states.

Along with numerous donations from local sources, library groups from across the country have chipped in, including the Cincinnati Library Staff Association, Friends of the Pittsboro (N.C.) Memorial Library and a committee of the James V. Brown Library in Williamsport, Pa.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Redbox Jabs Big Guys

RG's Neighborhood Kiosk

Link to September 6 New York Times article, "Movie Studios See Threat in Growth of Redbox".

And what an amazing growth it is. From 12 kiosks in 2004 to a projected 22,000 in December 2009.

Here's an instructive snapshot of the movie rental marketplace:
45% traditional stores
36% rent-by-mail serrvices, such as Netflix
19% vending machines, led by Redbox

Taking a page out of the Washington playbook, Hollywood goes "family farm" on us. Studios, aware that consumers are unlikely to pity their plight and muzzled by the lawsuits, are keeping quiet. Fox, Universal, Warner and Disney each declined to comment for this article. But Hollywood’s powerful public relations machinery is in motion behind the scenes to connect the news media with a group that is equally threatened by Redbox but much more relatable: mom and pop rental store owners.

A little late, I'd venture. Blockbuster, Hollywood Video, and Family Video have already trampled on the majority of these guys.

LA Times Book Critic on the lost art of reading

Link to August 9 Los Angeles Times article, "The lost art of reading".

Excerpt: In his 1967 memoir, "Stop-Time," Frank Conroy describes his initiation into literature as an adolescent on Manhattan's Upper East Side. "I'd lie in bed . . . ," he writes, "and read one paperback after another until two or three in the morning. . . . The real world dissolved and I was free to drift in fantasy, living a thousand lives, each one more powerful, more accessible, and more real than my own." I know that boy: Growing up in the same neighborhood, I was that boy. And I have always read like that, although these days, I find myself driven by the idea that in their intimacy, the one-to-one attention they require, books are not tools to retreat from but rather to understand and interact with the world.

So what happened? It isn't a failure of desire so much as one of will. Or not will, exactly, but focus: the ability to still my mind long enough to inhabit someone else's world, and to let that someone else inhabit mine. Reading is an act of contemplation, perhaps the only act in which we allow ourselves to merge with the consciousness of another human being. We possess the books we read, animating the waiting stillness of their language, but they possess us also, filling us with thoughts and observations, asking us to make them part of ourselves. This is what Conroy was hinting at in his account of adolescence, the way books enlarge us by giving direct access to experiences not our own. In order for this to work, however, we need a certain type of silence, an ability to filter out the noise.

Such a state is increasingly elusive in our over-networked culture, in which every rumor and mundanity is blogged and tweeted. Today, it seems it is not contemplation we seek but an odd sort of distraction masquerading as being in the know. Why? Because of the illusion that illumination is based on speed, that it is more important to react than to think, that we live in a culture in which something is attached to every bit of time

Harry Potter: Parents (and Librarians) Beware

September 7 letter to the editor, Marshfield News Herald.

Editor: Parents, be aware Harry Potter books and movie toys lead kids into devil workshop and should be removed from the library and your homes. Good rule: Anything that leads a person toward evil should be removed from the parents' home.

A complete list offending items would have been most helpful.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Cushing Academy: Headmaster Ignores Yesterday's Lessons

Link to September 4 article, "Welcome to the library. Say goodbye to the books."

Excerpt: This year, after having amassed a collection of more than 20,000 books, officials at the pristine campus about 90 minutes west of Boston have decided the 144-year-old school no longer needs a traditional library. The academy’s administrators have decided to discard all their books and have given away half of what stocked their sprawling stacks - the classics, novels, poetry, biographies, tomes on every subject from the humanities to the sciences. The future, they believe, is digital.

“When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls before books,’’ said James Tracy, headmaster of Cushing and chief promoter of the bookless campus. “This isn’t ‘Fahrenheit 451’ [the 1953 Ray Bradbury novel in which books are banned]. We’re not discouraging students from reading. We see this as a natural way to shape emerging trends and optimize technology.’’

James Tracy, meet Paul Saffo.

"Media is not a zero sum game," says Paul Saffo, a director of the Institute for the Future in Menlo Park, California. "Just because a new medium arrives doesn't mean an old medium dies out. We still have writing in an age of word processing, we still have reading in an age of video. That will continue, but the nature of reading will change as it has changed all along." (From "In So Many Words: How Reading Reshapes the Reading Habit", by Rebecca Piirto Heath, American Demographics, March 1997.)

The article then goes on to note: After Gutenberg's invention of the moveable-type printing press in 1455, some predicted it would mean the end of handwritten text, writes Alberto Manguel in A History of Reading. Instead, the opposite happened. The printing press brought vast quantities of uniform, inexpensive reading material to the masses. As the printed word spread in the 16th century, more people learned to read and write, and the calligraphic arts flourished.

Web Addicts: No Cheap Alternatives?

Link to September 5 New York Times article, "Center Tries to Treat Web Addicts".

Success not guaranteed, the headline implies.

Excerpt: Ben Alexander spent nearly every waking minute playing the video game “World of Warcraft.” As a result, he flunked out of the University of Iowa.

Mr. Alexander, 19, needed help to break an addiction that he called as destructive as alcohol or drugs. He found it in Fall City, where what claims to be the first residential treatment center for Internet addiction in the United States just opened its doors.

The center, called ReSTART, opened in July, and for $14,000 it offers a 45-day program intended to help people wean themselves from pathological computer use.

The New York City Subway System: Reading Like It's Yesterday

Link to September 3 New York Times article, "Reading Underground".

Excerpt: Reading on the subway is a New York ritual, for the masters of the intricately folded newspaper like Ms. Kornhaber, who lives in Park Slope and works on the Upper East Side, as well as for teenage girls thumbing through magazines, aspiring actors memorizing lines, office workers devouring self-help inspiration, immigrants newly minted — or not — taking comfort in paragraphs in a familiar tongue. These days, among the tattered covers may be the occasional Kindle, but since most trains are still devoid of Internet access and cellphone reception, the subway ride remains a rare low-tech interlude in a city of inveterate multitasking workaholics. And so, we read. (RG's emphasis.)

Even without a seat, even while pressed with strangers into human panini, even as someone plays a keyboard harmonica and rattles a cup of change, even when stumbling home after a party.

Hansen fights for bill to teach history of organized labor

Link to September 6 Green Bay Press-Gazette article.

Excerpt: The revised bill incorporates "the history of organized labor and the collective bargaining process" into the state's model academic standards for social studies, making it a suggestion rather than a requirement.

"I'm agreeable to that," Hansen said. "I'll accept the amendment to get it passed."

The Senate Committee on Education held a public hearing on the measure July 9 and could take a vote sending it to the floor this week, he said.

"Unions are 'the folks who brought you the weekend,' as one famous bumper sticker puts it," Hansen said in explaining his persistence about getting this information into the classroom.

"You have to remember the labor movement is what gave you the eight-hour day, the 40-hour work week, unemployment compensation, workers compensation, safety standards — improvements that have benefited non-union workers as well as unionized workers."

In a changing global economy, Hansen said it's more important than ever for new generations to understand organized labor's contributions

Village of Hobart Develops Fee Structure for Fire Department

to September 6 Green Bay Post-Gazette article, "

Excerpt: Hobart is one of a small but growing number of Wisconsin communities to charge property owners and businesses when fire crews respond to accidents and fires.

The Village Board recently approved an ordinance that establishes fees for residents, nonresidents, private businesses and tax-exempt entities that request the fire department to provide traffic control at the scene of an accident or fight a non-naturally caused fire with suppressant.

Proposed fees range from $50 to $500, determined by the type of call and who makes the request. Village officials estimate the fees will generate $10,000 to $15,000 in revenue.