Saturday, March 13, 2010

Florida License Plates: Your Ad Here

Link to March 13 Miami Herald article, "Florida Legislature to vote on letting corporations buy space on license plates".

Excerpt: The legislation that could allow some companies to stamp their corporate logo on Florida license plates as a way to bring in some cash for the state -- and save drivers some money -- is likely to get a vote in a Senate committee next week.

The vote is likely this coming week after the Senate Transportation and Economic Development Appropriations Committee adds the language to a shell bill that will be before the committee, said its chairman, Sen. Mike Fasano, who floated the idea a few weeks ago.

Retiring Guy says designated the revenue for libraries.

Where in the World is Retiring Guy? (Part 2)

Hartford Wisconsin Mayoral Candidates Divided on Library Project

Link to March 13 Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article, "Library project is key topic in Hartford mayor's race".

In this corner, we have Tim Michalak, a member of the Hartford Common Council, wants a referendum.  He's a list guy:  want list, wish list, need list.  He thinks the 35,000-square-foot, $10 million project sh
ould be privately funded.   He made a $1,000 contribution to the building fund.  Michalak has been endorsed by the Hartford Area Taxpayers Association (HATA).

And in this corner, we have Joe Dautermann, a former alderperson.  He supports the council's plan to move forward with plans to borrow $4,000,000 for the library project.  "The project is overdue," he says.  (Have no idea if the pun was intended.)  Current mayor Scott Henke and 3 former mayors have endorsed Dautermann.

Election day is April 6.

Related article:

Five Hartford (Wisconsin) mayoral candidates differ on library project.  (1/25/2010)

Fort Atkinson Library Moves to Temporary Home

Foster Growth: Expansion and Renovation Project

Link to March 12 Daily Union Online article, "Library staff bookin' it to 'new' home".

Excerpt:   The Dwight Foster Public Library is moving to a temporary home while the historic 93-year-old structure undergoes a substantial remodeling and expansion beginning April 1.

Located at 102 East Milwaukee Ave. in Fort Atkinson, the library will close at 5 p.m. this Saturday and remain closed at that location until after the $5.5 million project is completed in early 2011.

A groundbreaking ceremony is set April 5 for the project, which calls for remodeling the existing 21,000 square feet of space and adding 12,000 square feet of new space. Joe Daniels Construction Co. Inc. of Madison is the general contractor.

Related articles:

Emotions Reach Boiling Point in Boston Public Library Discussion

Link to March 12 Boston Globe article, "A loud dispute over the fate of quiet libraries".

Excerpt:     The shout that shattered the decorum at this week's trustees meeting at the Boston Public Library came from Sarah Wenig. The 56-year-old Back Bay resident yelled that the public should speak first when City Council President Michael P. Ross stepped to the microphone.

Other shouts followed. Wenig barked: "If we wanted to hear from the City Council we would have gone to a City Council meeting." Ross relented and stepped off the stage. The other half-dozen councilors sitting in the audience followed his lead and stayed mum.  

The topic of closing libraries has elicited a lot of strong emotions, but Wenig's outburst took it to another level. Two days later, the City Council took up the issue again at a budget hearing, but this time it was on their turf in City Hall.

Related articles: 

The Boston Public Library Dilemma, Continued.  (3/12/2010)

Boston Speaks Up for Its Libraries.  (3/10/2010)

Boston Public Library Branches to be Ranked in Consolidation Plan. (3/9/2010)

Boston Public Library Anticipating Budget Cuts in 2011. (3/2/2010)

Where in the world is Retiring Guy?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Florida's $21.2 Million Aid to Public Libraries on Chopping Block

Down from $33.4 million in 2000.

Link to March 11 Palm Beach Post News, "Lawmakers propose eliminating all state funding for libraries".

If that happens, Florida libraries would lose an additional $9 million in matching federal funds, Department of State spokeswoman Jennifer Davis said.

The cuts could mean library closures in small counties and shorter hours and fewer services in large ones such as Palm Beach County.

Budget chiefs in the House and Senate have cut state aid for libraries to nothing in their preliminary proposals, even as the mainstay of their budgets from cities and counties is dwindling due to declines in property tax collections.

"It could really have a devastating effect because several of the small libraries are just holding on at the moment," said Palm Beach County Library System Director John Callahan, incoming president of the Florida Library Association.

The Boston Public Library Dilemma, Continued

Link to March 12 Boston Globe op-ed piece, "Trouble balancing the books".

Excerpt:   America’s first free public library is a cultural jewel on the order of the Boston Symphony Orchestra or the Museum of Fine Arts. Some have argued that it needs a big-money foundation board that can pull in million-dollar donations as the others have. But the BPL is not a private nonprofit institution. It is a department of the city of Boston, just like the schools or police or parks, supported by the taxpayers. Running it is a public trust. To cite one obvious difference with the MFA or the BSO, the library is always free.

This makes calculating the worth of the branches even harder. The very communities with the lowest circulation numbers — Egleston Square, Upham’s Corner, Parker Hill — likely need library services the most. They are the communities least likely to have home computers, easy mobility, or quality schools — or bookstores, for that matter.

Libraries are far from the obsolete buggy whip factories some people like to mock. Teaching citizens how to do primary research is more important than ever in today’s derivative “wiki’’ culture. And that is something librarians are uniquely trained to do.

Related articles:

Boston Speaks Up for Its Libraries.  (3/10/2010)

Boston Public Library Branches to be Ranked in Consolidation Plan. (3/9/2010)

Boston Public Library Anticipating Budget Cuts in 2011. (3/2/2010)

Government Talking Out of Both Sides of Its Mouth

As if this should surprise you.

From March 12 Flowing Data post, "Challenge:  Let's do something with these 3-D pyramids".   

Candidates Decline Invitation to Debate

Link to March 11 Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article, "2 Pewaukee candidates to skip debate".

Excerpt: Two candidates for aldermen in the April 6 election are refusing to participate in a Pewaukeeans for Better Government-sponsored debate next week, with one alleging the organization is biased and the other saying she's new to politics and prefers to meet informally with voters.

Candidate Kim Wentz said she is boycotting the debate because she believes the "PBG has lost sight of its original mission" and "morphed into Mayor (Scott) Klein's campaign attack dog."

PBG officials called Wentz's claims absurd, adding that the government watchdog group has never endorsed candidates, although its individual members have.

Although they won't be at the PBG debate, scheduled for 7 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Pewaukee Public Library, Wentz and Brown said they will attend a Pewaukee Chamber of Commerce event for city and village candidates from 5 to 6:30 p.m. March 23 at the Radisson Hotel, N14-W24140 Tower Place

Wisconsin Libraries Will Want to Link to This Site (If They Don't Already)

A series of selected screenshots.

 Not a full-screen view.  And, obviously, not a replica of the actual ballot.

You can even view your voting history.

Republican Party of Wisconsin Launches New Web Site

Link to March 12 Racine News article.

Excerpt:  The Republican Party of Wisconsin has launched a new web site aimed at improving access and ease of use for grassroots activists. The new includes an interactive county parties map, information and links to websites and social networks for Republican candidates for elected office, and new focus on updated social networks.

“The new is a result of suggestions and feedback from online users and will provide easier access to our vibrant social networks,” according to Reince Priebus, Chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin.

Let's take a look.

Nicely blocked-out, uncluttered design.  Social media links are visible without having to scroll down.  Feeds get prominent display.

And how does this site compare to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

Retiring Guy doesn't like that fact that he's prompted to "CONTINUE", once he gets beyond the big red CONTRIBUTE bar, that is.

Scott Walker gets top billing over Tom Barrett?  And the social network icons are at the bottom of the page, requiring most viewers to scroll down.

Advantage:  Republicans.

Real-Time Bidding: Customized, Instantaneous Web Advertising

Privacy on the web:
An old, crumbling notion to some

Link to March 12 New York Times article, "Instant Ads Set the Pace On the Web".

Excerpt:   Advertisers have been able to direct online messages based on demographics, income and even location, but one element has been largely missing until recently: immediacy. Advertisers booked slots in advance, and could not make on-the-fly decisions about what ads to show based on what people were doing on the Web.

Now, companies like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft let advertisers buy ads in the milliseconds between the time someone enters a site’s Web address and the moment the page appears. The technology, called real-time bidding, allows advertisers to examine site visitors one by one and bid to serve them ads almost instantly.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Online Survey: Los Angeles Budget Challenge


Other areas up for consideration:
  • Recreation and Parks Maintenance and Program Hours
  • Fire Department - Reduced Daily Staffing
  • Transportation and Infrastructure
  • General Adminstration and Support
  • Civilian Employee Furloughs
  • Capital Construction Projects
  • Pension Reform
  • Parking Users' Tax Rate Increase
  • Clean Water Initiative - Rate Increase
  • Licenses, Permits, Fees and Fines (does not include library fines)
  • Public Private Partnership for Parking Structures/Meters

ABC Video: Texas Man Jailed for Library Fines

Kickin' It Up a Notch to Retrieve Long Overdue Library Materials

This type of story is catnip to the media and does nothing to enhance the image of libraries.

Link to March 11 The Raw Story article, "The book police are coming to get you". 

ExcerptABC News reports that Littleton is by no means the only city that has taken to issuing summonses for missing library materials. "Similar arrests and warrants have been reported in Washington state, Iowa and Texas," it states.

In Hanson's case, the arrest was for failure to appear, not for theft. The city of Littleton says it sent Hanson repeated notices in the mail and left phone messages for him, requesting that he return the DVD. Hanson says he failed to return it because he accidentally packed it while moving last fall. The move, he says, is why he didn't receive the library's messages.

Because he never received notice of the summons, the arrest was "a clear violation of his right to due process,” Hanson's father, Allen Hanson, said.

KMGH in Denver reports that the arrest cost Hanson's family $460 in all -- $200 for bail, $200 to get his car out of the impound lot, and $60 for court costs. The city says it will reimburse the Hansons, and Littleton Mayor Doug Clark has announced a change in the city's policy, saying that "we're not going to arrest people who don't return $30 DVDs."

Related articles:

New York Times Best Seller List, January 17, 1960

How are they faring today? All but one still available via LINKcat.

And who, you might ask, is Eugene Vale?

Retiring Guy wants to know what going on with "Advise and Consent". All 10 copies checked out. Book group?

The Coming Shift in Textbook Formats

Link to March 3 Knowledge@Wharton post, " E-textbooks: the new best-sellers". (via Library Link of the Day)

Excerpt: While some students may be using notebooks or their more portable cousins, netbooks, to read textbooks, some experts predict that within the next 10 years, most U.S. college students -- and many high-school and elementary-school students as well -- will probably be reading course materials on an electronic device instead of in a paper book. And that will have a broad impact on students and teachers, not to mention the $9.9 billion textbook-publishing business.

If this is, indeed, the future of textbook publishing, a key question remains unanswered: Is it economically sustainable? Almost every industry -- from travel agencies to newspapers -- that has moved to a digital model has seen its profits decimated and some existing participants bankrupted. Textbook "publishers are aware that their current model is doomed," says Peter S. Fader, co-director of the Wharton Interactive Media Initiative (WIMI). Adds WIMI co-director Eric Bradlow: "It's not just that the bound-dead-tree is a dead model. [It’s that publishers] will have less monopoly power." Assuming the cost of production goes down, "market forces suggest prices would come down" as well.

Related articles:

The Public Notice Debate, Continued

Tough to make a case
for the status quo
with these numbers.

Link to "Don't send us surfing for public notices", written by Peter D. Fox, Wisconsin Newspaper Association Executive Director, which has recently been given wide distribution.

Excerpt: Possibly because they are so “wired in” at the State Capitol, many legislators advocate shifting all public notices to the Internet. Would they take that position if they were just regular members of the public who don’t have a lot of time in their personal lives to check up on what government is doing.

Let's take a look at the "regular members of the public".

According to an April 2009 survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, 63% of adult Americans (a.k.a. "regular members of the public") now have broadband internet connections at home, up 15% from the previous year.

What about newspaper readership?

In a 2008 Pew Research Center survey of news media consumption, 34% of responsdents said they read a newspaper on the previous day, down from 40% in 2006.

According to the Pew Research activity grid, except for the oldest Americans (the G.I. Generation), more than half of all Americans visit a government website as part of their online activities. (Click on grid to enlarge.)

Related article:

Debating How Public Notices are Published. (3/10/2010)

"Widdled down"? What's that you say?

From the March 10 Monona-Cottage Grove Independent-Herald Editors Blog.

Retiring Guy suggests handling the follow-up report with care.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Boston Speaks Up For Its Libraries

Link to March 10 Boston Globe article, "The passions run high as libraries' fate debated".

Excerpt: Passions ran high yesterday as nearly 400 people packed a lecture hall at the Boston Public Library in Copley Square for an emotional and at times raucous public meeting about the fate of the constellation of library branches that dot the city.

When City Council President Michael P. Ross stepped to the microphone at one point, the crowd roared, and people shouted, “The public goes first,’’ and “Let the people speak.’’

Ross relented, and a constant stream of people took turns, many denouncing a proposal by library officials to close up to 10 neighborhood branches to consolidate resources and change how they provide services in the face of a $3.6 million budget shortfall.

“It’s outrageous that it has come to this,’’ said Yann Poisson of Dorchester. “Only a fifth-term mayor could dismiss libraries as a 21st-century anachronism, something that can be replaced by Yahoo or Google.’

Related articles:

Boston Public Library Branches to be Ranked in Consolidation Plan. (3/9/2010)

Boston Public Library Anticipating Budget Cuts in 2011. (3/2/2010)

Internet Access: Survey Says...

...nearly 80% of people throughout the world believe it's a fundamental human right. (BBC poll)

Link to March 9 Computerworld post.

Excerpt: The international broadcaster polled more than 27,000 adults in 26 countries and found that 50% "strongly agree" and 30% "somewhat agree" that access to the Internet should be a fundamental right.

Strongest support came from South Korea (95%), Mexico, Brazil, and Turkey (90%).

32%. Online fraud
27%. Violent and explicit content.
20%. Privacy.
6%. State censorship of content.

Link to BBC News "Have Your Say": Is internet access a fundamental human right? (Apparently, none of the people who posted comments was surveyed. Many of the comments reflect a mix of skepticism, disbelief, and derision.)

Wednesday Miscellany

Retiring Guy can handle this routine.

Google Maps Now Includes Intelligent Bike Routes

Link to March 10 Mashable post.

"Intelligent" as in recommendations that include as much bike trail data as possible, provide efficient routes, allow riders to customize their trip, make use of bike lanes, calculate rider-friendly routes that avoid big hills and customize the look of the map for cycling to encourage folks to hop on their bikes.

But as a caveat notes.

These directions are for planning purposes only. You may find that construction projects, traffic, weather, or other events may cause conditions to differ from the map results, and you should plan your route accordingly. You must obey all signs or notices regarding your route.

Retiring Guy used this feature to map a route from home to the WLA office. Not too much to quibble over, although he's not inclined to bike on E. Johnson St. He'd go around the Square and enter the bike path at E. Wilson and Blair streets. Anything to avoid motor traffic.

So, does mean a bike ride to get to and from the next LD&L meeting?

The Adjustable Reading Valet: Does It Turn the Page for You?

Spotted at the Gadgeteer today.

Available at Hammacher Schlemmer for $179.95 (Does not include recliner.)

Also available in an adjustable tabletop version. (Image unavailable.)

If Retiring Guy attempted to read while so positioned, he'd be in dreamland within minutes, just like the guy in the recliner. Take a closer look!

Kilbourn Public Library in the News

Wireless Internet access on the bookmobile, library building project, joint agreement with Lake Delton.

Link to March 10 post, "Bookmobile to go wireless".

Excerpt: Thursday, Library Director Cathy Borck said the bookmobile could be outfitted with wireless Internet for $60 a month on a month-to-month contract with MyFi 2200. The up front cost of the equipment would be $269.

Borck said five devices could connect to the Internet at one time and a 30-day trial period is available.

The board decided to start the service in June to gauge how popular the service is during its busiest period. If many use it, the library may have to take out more than one contract to double the number of devices that can connect.

In other business, the board met in closed session and approved spending $19,500 of its current budget on design development phase architectural designs for the proposed $2.5 million library addition. The board has already been working with MSA architect Carter Arndt in creating the schematic design and expansion study. At a recent meeting, the board voted to continue working with MSA Professional Services after also considering architects from Dimension IV, Sean Bujold and Associates, Architectural Design Consultants Inc, First Sun Studio and Durrant

Link to March 10 post, "Village signs library pact".

Excerpt: The Village of Lake Delton Board unanimously approved and signed a new joint library agreement with the City of Wisconsin Dells at its meeting Monday afternoon.

The Dells city council has yet to approve the agreement, and meets on Monday, March 15 at 7:30 p.m. City Clerk-Treasurer Dale Darling said the agreement will be on the finance committee’s and the council’s agendas.

The agreement approved by the village is for 25 years, and will be automatically renewed for five-year terms unless it is terminated by the city or village.

It cannot be terminated, however, before long-term debt incurred from the “2010 capital improvements” have been paid in full or until the city and village come to an agreement on paying the remaining debt

Portage Public Library Board Meeting: Hoping for Better News in April

Link to March 9 Portage Daily Register article, " Water wreaks havoc for library; sprinkler fix cost goes from $5,800 to $26,000; basement of rental house floods".

Excerpt: With the idea of a possible 6,000-square-foot expansion to the Portage Public Library in the background, library board members Tuesday discussed a $26,000 problem with the existing building's sprinkler system and heard of a flood in the library's adjacent rental house.

A sprinkler system leak noticed the day before Thanksgiving could have put 8 inches of water throughout the 15-year-old building. Repair work, marked by scaffolding inside the checkout area, had been projected to cost $5,800. In February, however, a worker's screwdriver fell through a pipe; it had been corroded, library Director Shannon Stiller told the board.

The new estimate: $26,000.

Stiller said the actual cost might be somewhat below that number. It will cover the installation of 380 feet of galvanized pipe, a new air compressor and more. The board approved the expenditure in a special meeting Feb. 19.

"It's moving along," Stiller said of the work. "They expect to be done by Friday."

The work was to be paid for with money carried over from 2009; in part because the library went for months without a director, it had about $47,000 of unspent money last year. The Common Council was to review the purchase this month.

Next, Stiller turned to the status of the rental house adjacent to the library building. An addition to the building probably would be built on the house's lot at 263 W. Edgewater St., while the house itself would be moved or razed.

"On to more bad news," Stiller said. "The pipes in the house burst in February

Debating How Public Notices Are Published

Link to March 10 Capital Times column by Peter D. Fox, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association.

Excerpt: Because there are limitless government activities that affect our lives, state law contains dozens upon dozens of directions for how citizens should be notified of those actions. Some laws apply to different levels of government while others apply specifically to towns, villages, cities, counties or school boards. Some laws deal with publication in official newspapers; others deal simply with posting notices in public places -- out among citizens.

The four bills would reduce the long-standing requirements for three public postings of notices in situations as varied as abandoned goods in storage units, giving notice of public meetings, and the court-ordered sale of personal goods or property to satisfy a judgment. They are Senate Bills 276 and 541, and Assembly Bills 546 and 707.

Each of these bills would eliminate at least one physical posting of a public notice. The trade-off is to “allow” citizens to go to a government-run website to ferret out their own information. And incredulously, one bill permits an “official” site that is owned by the Wisconsin Self Storage Association!
(I think that's because the bill, AB707, deals specifically with self-storage facilities, Peter.)

Senate Bill 276 / Assembly Bill 546. Applies to a governmental body of a city, village, town, or county (political subdivision), or school district.

1. Requires that a public notice of a meeting subject to open meetings law be posted on city, village, town, county, or school district web site. (Minutes from business conducted in open session must also be posted.)

2. Allows a town to meet requirement of law by posting in 3 places: town's web site, town hall, one other (undesignated) place. (Retiring Guy thinks there's more to this stipulation, but the Legislative Reference Bureau bill drafters are experts in obfuscation.)

Senate Bill 541. Addresses the requirement for the posting of public notices in cases where a judge orders that personal property or real estate be sold to satisfy a judgment against a person.

Assembly Bill 707. Addresses the current procedure that requires operators of a self−storage facilities to send two notices to the person who has failed to pay the rental fee at the facility before the operator may sell the personal property left in the facility.

The current law requires that an operator of a self-storage facility advertise the sale of the
personal property once a week for two consecutive weeks in a newspaper.

Newspapers, of course, are up in arms above this kind of legislation as it threatens to cut of a longstanding source of revenue. It's bad enough that ad revenue had been dropping like the proverbial stone.

A sampling of the outcry.
Public notices on the internet: It just doesn’t work.

Public notices must remain public.

The Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association has developed a statewide online database of public notices. A caveat, however, makes it very clear where members stand on the issue.

The public notice database on this site is not a substitute for the official publication that is required by law. You will still find those notices in your local newspaper. [Emphasis added.]

Where do you stand on the issue?

Addressing Safety Issues on Brown County Library To-Do List

Link to March 10 Green Bay Post-Gazette article, "

Excerpt: Brown County Library officials are working their way through a fix-it list for five branch sites to avert accidents and potential disaster.

"We've been told what we need to have and we'd better do it or we could be liable," said Library Director Lynn Stainbrook.

The short-term list of safety issues focuses on lighting at the Central, Weyers-Hilliard, Kress, Southwest and Ashwaubenon library branches where the Boldt Co. of Appleton has concluded that emergency exit and other lighting is not up to code.

"If there was a fire or the power went off and there was no lighting, people wouldn't be able to see their way out," Stainbrook said.

"Most of these projects are things the public doesn't notice now."

For Stainbrook and the Library Board, it is also a financial issue. With about $200,000 in carryover funds from the 2009 budget, the library expects to be able to complete many of the items on the list this year.

But factoring into the decision is a plan for major renovation of the 40-year-old Central Library in downtown Green Bay. The board is taking proposals from architects and expects to look at design proposals later this year.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Boston Public Library Branches to be Ranked in Consolidated Plan

Link to March 9 Boston Globe article, "Rankings to decide fate of libraries".

Excerpt: Library administrators will rank the 26 neighborhood branches by foot traffic, computer use, and how many Web surfers use laptops to log on to Wi-Fi networks. They will count how many programs are offered at each location and tally the number of people who attend storytime and English classes.

Amy E. Ryan, Boston Public Library president, will outline today the intricate measures the city intends to use to close as many as 10 neighborhood branches as part of a sweeping consolidation plan. Ryan will brief the library’s board of trustees at 3 p.m. at what is expected to be a crowded and contentious public meeting at library headquarters in Copley Square.

“We will still have the libraries that we know and love from childhood, only they are going to be better,’’ Ryan said in an interview yesterday. “What we need to do is think about how we provide services that don’t have to be building-bound in all 26 branches.’’

Related article:

Boston Public Library Anticipating Budget Cuts in 2011. (3/2/2010)

Brookfield Wisconsin Mayoral Race

Link to March 7 Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article, "Election 2010: Keeping Brookfield's economy healthy is goal of mayoral candidates."

Excerpt: [Steve] Ponto said he would reduce costs through sharing services with other units of government.

"I will emphasize intergovernmental cooperation with the county and other nearby municipalities to reduce the city's cost of providing services," he said

Retiring Guy hopes that both candidates have been informed as to how libraries have been modeling cooperative behavior and providing costs savings for years.

For starters.....

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