Saturday, August 28, 2010

Glenn Beck Still Auditioning for the Role of 'Lonesome' Rhodes

Today's alternative (and antidote) to the current news.

Still instructive viewing 53 years after its release.  (10 copies of the DVD owned by LINKcat libraries.)

IMDB thumbnail summary:  "A Face in the Crowd" charts the rise of a raucous hayseed named Lonesome Rhodes from itinerant Ozark guitar picker to local media rabble-rouser to TV superstar and political king-maker.

The Competition for our Living Rooms

Posted 11/27/2007

Link to August 28 San Jose Mercury News article, "Apple faces high hurdles and fierce competition in its push into the living room".

Excerpt:     Apple, which upended consumer behavior with the iPhone and iPad tablet, may have met its match in the living room, where it faces enormous challenges and fierce competition on what many say is consumer tech's new frontier -- the television.

The vision is to allow people to effortlessly access limitless entertainment and information on one device -- everything from HBO shows to Internet videos to games to e-mail. Users could dip into databases with tens of thousands of movies or old TV episodes -- and simultaneously scan websites or check Twitter accounts -- all with one simple set of controls.

The Cupertino company is not alone in its pursuit of dominance in the living room. Giants like Intel, Google and Microsoft -- as well as a host of smaller companies, including TiVo and Roku -- all see fortunes waiting just beyond the couch

200 Years of Library Service in Centerville, Ohio

Not to rain on anyone's parade, but attaching a 200-year anniversary to the Washington-Centerville Public Library is a bit misleading.

Washington-Centerville Public Library time line.

1810.   Formation of the Washington Social Library Company  a joint stock company was modeled after Benjamin's Franklin's The Library Company of Philadelphia.

1840.  "...the Washington Social Library Company flourished for some thirty years..."

c. 1900. The Centerville Library Club, a group of commmmunity leaders, was organized. Meetings took placed at members' homes.

1930. Washington Township public library incorporated. Centerville Library Club donate "some of their 150 volumes".

1961. Centerville Library facility opens.

1974. Storefront North Branch opens in Washington Square Shopping Center.

1980. Woodbourne Library opens in converted bank building, replacing North Branch.

1986. 7700-square-foot addition to Woodbourne Library.

1995. New Centerville Library opens.

The Lane Library in Hamilton, Ohio, lays claim to being the oldest public library west of the Alleghenies.

Whatever the case, whatever the numbers, Centerville and Washington Township residents have access to a great, which has been ranked #1 seven times on Hennen's American Public Library Ratings (HAPLR) .   Congratulations to all concerned.

USA Today Decides It's a Digital World

Link to August 28 New York Times article, "USA Today to Remake Itself to Stress Digital Operations".

Advertising revenue:

Excerpt:   Faced with this dour reality, USA Today announced on Friday the most extensive reorganization in its 28-year history. The paper will eliminate about 130 jobs, or 9 percent of its work force, and shift its business model away from the print edition that has become ubiquitous in airports, hotels and newsstands across the country.

Top 10 newspapers by circulation as of 3/31/2010:
Source:  Wikipedia

Top 10 newspapers by circulation as of 3/31/2006:
Full list found at Infoplease.

Friday, August 27, 2010

St. Louis Public Library's 3rd Annual 'Food for Fines' Program a Huge Success

Homeless Escape Heat at Tempe Public Library

Link to August 26 Arizona Republic article, "Tempe helps homeless get heat-stress relief".

Excerpt: The image of smiling bohemian youths playing guitars or sitting next to their dogs on Mill Avenue comprise just a fraction of Tempe's homeless. Most are chronically homeless and prefer to fade into the woodwork or escape into city parks that are vacant during the day. Most are single men in their 30s to 50s, said Theresa James, homeless and fair-housing coordinator for Tempe. About 25 percent are women and 30 percent are veterans, like Dennis.

There are from 300 to 500 homeless people in the city on any given day throughout the year, James said.

"It is impossible to know exactly how many homeless there are in Tempe. People tend to think the number goes down in the summer, but I don't believe that to be true," she said.

The Tempe Public Library and Orbit shuttle bus are two of the more popular air-conditioned havens for the homeless

Pew Research: Older Adults and Social Media

Link to August 27 Pew Internet & American Life report.

Excerpt: While social media use has grown dramatically across all age groups, older users have been especially enthusiastic over the past year about embracing new networking tools. Social networking use among internet users ages 50 and older nearly doubled—from 22% in April 2009 to 42% in May 2010.

•Between April 2009 and May 2010, social networking use among internet users ages 50-64 grew by 88%--from 25% to 47%.

•During the same period, use among those ages 65 and older grew 100%--from 13% to 26%.

•By comparison, social networking use among users ages 18-29 grew by 13%—from 76% to 86%.

“Young adults continue to be the heaviest users of social media, but their growth pales in comparison with recent gains made by older users,” explains Mary Madden, Senior Research Specialist and author of the report. “Email is still the primary way that older users maintain contact with friends, families and colleagues, but many older users now rely on social network platforms to help manage their daily communications

Need Another Reason to Click the "Hide" Button?

Link to August 27 San Jose Mercury News article, "

Excerpt:    You know the type -- social game addicts who pepper your Facebook page with updates about the wine recipe they created playing "FarmVille," or the gem broker they robbed on "Mafia Wars." To fuel their gaming, those same people may soon be posting updates about the sneaker they designed for Adidas, or the app they downloaded for Coke.

With Americans now spending a third of their online time logged into social networks or playing games, advertisers are trying to harness that enthusiasm to get people to engage with their brands. No one expects game-based social advertising to supplant Google's huge AdWords search business or Yahoo's lead in banner display ads, but the model is another example of how the explosive growth of social networking and gaming offers new opportunities for advertisers to target an online audience.

"We see it as an entirely new kind of advertising product," said Arik Czerniak, chief operating officer of SupersonicAds, a company that allows people to earn the virtual currency needed to play games on social networks like Facebook or hi5 by watching video ads or responding to targeted offers.

For example, players who need "city bucks" to keep playing Playdom's "Social City" game on Facebook can earn one city buck by watching a 4 minute, 23 second Butterfinger ad starring aging TV stars Adam West and Erik Estrada, or pull in 113 city bucks if they sign up for a new Netflix account

May Explosions Keep New Jersey Library Out of Commission

Although it is operating out of a temporary site.

Link to August 26 Newark Star-Ledger article, "Morristown library now safe enough for investigators to enter".

Excerpt: The most serious asbestos contamination has been cleaned up at the damaged Morristown and Morris Township Public Library, and now investigators and construction workers are able to enter the building.

Yesterday, investigators walked through the site to continue their inquiry into the cause of the explosion there earlier this year.

“We’ve been waiting for the abatement to finish so we could get in there, and they notified us,” recently, said Ron Morano, spokesman for Jersey Central Power & Light.

On May 3, a series of underground explosions blew the doors off the library building and buckled portions of the basement floor.

Outside, on South Street, the blasts sent manhole covers into the air. While there was significant damage to the older wing, built in 1917, and asbestos fibers were released into the building, there were no injuries

Blockbuster to Enter "Pre-Planned Bankruptcy"

Or maybe not.

Link to August 27 Los Angeles Times article, "Blockbuster tells Hollywood studios it's preparing for mid-September bankruptcy".

Excerpt:  Though its plans are not yet set in stone, people knowledgeable about the discussions said the Blockbuster representatives presented a mid-September bankruptcy as the most likely scenario. It would enter what is known as a “pre-planned bankruptcy,” meaning most but not all creditors would be on board ahead of time, including senior debt holders and content suppliers.

One of the primary goals of the bankruptcy process, which the company said it hopes would last about five months, would be to escape costly leases for some of its worst-performing stores. Though Blockbuster hasn’t decided exactly how many locations it would seek to shutter as part of a bankruptcy, executives told the major studios it is looking at between 500 and 800.

Blockbuster closed nearly 1,000 stores in the last year alone, a reflection of consumers’ rapidly declining interest in renting DVDs from retail locations now that they can rent them from ubiquitous kiosks in grocery stores, in the mail, or via the Internet

Related article.
Just in case you don't think the video rental marketplace is changing.  (9/16/2009)

Small Steps in Reversing Downward Trend at St. Paul Public Library

Link to August 20 St. Paul Pioneer Press article, "St. Paul Public Library system sees some growth".

Excerpt:   Here's a word you don't hear much of these days when it comes to libraries: expansion.

The St. Paul Public Library system would gain the equivalent of half an employee next year, growing to 169.4 workers, up from 168.8 today, under a budget proposal unveiled this week. That's modest growth by any definition, but it's a step in the right direction, say library stewards, given the virtual bloodletting that occurred a few months ago when the library system shed 19 positions, or 10 percent of its staff.

The 6/10ths of a position is funded by a grant from the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library.

Some additional budget maneuvering means that several libraries that close at 8 p.m. weekdays would be able to stay open until 9 p.m. as necessary, allowing the Friends group to continue author readings and the like past closing.

"In some libraries where we're closed at 8 instead of 9, it kind of kills programming," said library director Kit Hadley during her presentation to the St. Paul Library Board this week

Stillwater Minnesota Library Users Speak, Council Listens (for Now)

Link to August 26 St. Paul Pioneer Press article, "Stillwater budget maintains library hours".

Excerpt: Patrons who use the Stillwater Public Library on Tuesday and Thursday mornings can breathe a sigh of relief — at least for now.

The Stillwater City Council this week approved budgeting an additional $14,801 for the library to avoid cutting those morning hours in 2011, said City Administrator Larry Hansen.

"Whether that $14,801 stays in the budget until the final levy is adopted in December, I don't know, but I'm hopeful that it will," Hansen said.

A survey of library users completed in January showed that "the one thing that people really wanted improved ... they wanted more hours," said Lynne Bertalmio, library director. The library board voted in 2008 to do away with Sunday hours because of budget limitations, she said.

The library's proposed budget for 2011 is about $1.12 million, with about $103,000 coming from private support and the remainder from the city

Genoa (Illinois) Public Library Receives $1,700,000 Donation

Link to August 27 Daily Herald article.

Excerpt: The Genoa Public Library is to receive the money from the estate of Robert Weiss, who died at age 86 last October. Weiss never married, didn't have a car and lived a frugal life. Workers at the library say Weiss wasn't a regular patron.

Library officials say Weiss' money could pay for an expansion. The library is in a building built in 1895 that officials say is crowded. The building has housed a furniture store and grocery store.

Library clerk Jim Kline says the library is "bursting at the seams

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh: Drumming Up Solutions

Link to WDUQ-FM audio report, "Library Turns to Public for Funding Ideas".

Summary: The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh opened its doors 115 years ago. Today—like many libraries around the country—it’s facing a deficit. DUQ’s Larkin Page-Jacobs reports the organization is turning to its patrons to help drum up solutions.

Related articles:
Budget woes continue.  (8/25/2010)
Ravenstahl calls Carnegie Library's finances into question.  (5/28/2010)
City council approves $640,000 grant for library.  (5/26/2010)
City council vote may save branches.  (12/1/2009)
Pittsburgh's declining population major factor in library funding crisis.  (11/8/2009)
Changes anger community.  (10/31/2009)

Jersey Residents Plead for Their Library

Link to August 26 Jersey Journal article, "Jersey City library patrons, staff ask city to save library budget from cuts".

Excerpt: Library Director Priscilla Gardner has said the city will only give the library $6 million this year to run its 10 branches. That's down from $7.7 million last year and below the $8 million she requested.

Under state law, the city must give the library $7.4 million, but that includes pension contributions for employees and the library's debt service, which the city pays.

Library patrons, staff members and representatives from the library's various programs asked the City Council to fully fund the budget.

Mary Quinn, principal librarian and manager of the Glenn D. Cunningham Branch, said the economy has placed an increased demand on libraries.

Quinn, president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3612, said the circulation was 180,000 in 2008 and jumped to 209,000 in 2009. While 2010 isn't over yet, the circulation to date is 218,000

180,000 circulation in 2008 for a city of just under a quarter million population? According to a 2008 statistical spreadsheet at the New Jersey State Library website, Quinn seems to have miscalculated.  Sadly, Jersey City's statistics still don't measure up.

Related article:
More bad news from New Jersey.  (8/9/2010)

Mercy for Animals Library Outreach Campaign

Was actually searching for something else when I stumbled across this.

Remote-Control Robots Enter the Workforce

Link to August 26 San Jose Mercury News article.

Excerpt: Anybots' QB is just one of a group of new remote-controlled robots now hitting the market. Employing communications technologies similar to Skype and robotic technologies akin to those found in robots used to explore Mars or help defuse bombs in Iraq, the new bots cost far less than their predecessors and are designed for more ordinary uses.

Blackwell, who founded Anybots nine years ago after leaving Yahoo, says the $15,000 QB can inspect warehouses or factories remotely or provide tech support. Security firms are also likely to be interested, said Jackie Fenn, an analyst who covers emerging trends at Gartner, a technology research firm. If security guards see something suspicious on a video camera, they could send in a robot to get a closer view, rather than having to go out and inspect it themselves.

Anybots' competitors include VGO, a New Hampshire company that is developing a two-wheeled robot similar to QB that has a video screen instead of a "head." Santa Monica-based RoboDynamics, meanwhile, has for two years been selling a robot called TiLR that has a much more industrial look but is similarly being targeted for use by remote employees and costs just $10,000. And Santa Barbara-based InTouch Health is building robots for use in hospitals and other health care settings by remotely located physicians

Marathon County 2011 Budget Preview (of Sorts)

Link to August 26 Wausau Daily Herald article, "Marathon County Board members say list doesn't necessarily reflect funding cuts".

Excerpt:   Marathon County Board members put road maintenance and law enforcement at the top of their priority list for the coming year as services for disadvantaged groups slipped to the bottom of the list.

But board members said the rankings don't mean those programs will be the first to suffer as county officials face a tight financial situation.

The board during a retreat last week ranked as a high, medium or low priority every program that receives more than $50,000 from the county annually. It was the first time board members have been asked to prioritize first, instead of determining line-by-line spending and then considering where to cut back.

County Finance Director Kristi Kordus said the county's budget for 2011 will be about $159 million, and doesn't have much wiggle room for spending.

"It's pretty tight," Kordus said. "But this list has spelled out for us what the board and the citizens they represent expect."

Not mentioned specifically, the Marathon County Public Library is apparently in the middle range of the priority rankings.

Leaders of Village of Sussex, Town of Lisbon Clash over Funding for Pauline Haas Public Library

Link to August 24 Sussex Sun article, "Lisbon-Sussex leader clash in library talks".

Excerpt: Sussex resident Len Anhalt, president emeritus of the library foundation, pleaded with village trustees and town supervisors to work together in reaching a new library agreement.

"Please do not play political games with this important facility that is such a treasure to the communities," he said.

There are no indications when negotiations between the Town and Village boards will begin.

Library Board Chairman Emil Glodoski described each section of the agreement to the Village and Town boards.

So far, the key issues appear to be whether to continue the present formula for funding and the library and how to extend the process for terminating the agreement.

Library Board members would like to extend the amount of notice a community has to give to terminate the agreement from 90 days to five years.

Gehrke has suggested each community's share of funds for the library should be based on how frequently residents in that community use the library.

He has said Sussex residents use the library more than Lisbon residents.

The present formula is based on the size of the tax base of each of communities, which happens to be about the same size, which means the communities almost equally divide their share of the cost of the library operations and debt

Related article: 
Will annexation resolution interfere with negotiations over joint library agreement?  (8/4/2010)
Proposal to change library funding formula gets cool reception.  (6/7/2010)
Town of Lisbon Chairman proposes new funding formula for library.  (5/31/2010)

City of Appleton 2011 Budget Preview

Link to August 26 Appleton Post-Crescent article, "Appleton Mayor Tim Hanna hints at leaner operations.

Excerpt: Mayor Tim Hanna won't deliver his budget plan until October, but clues abound about the direction city operations could take in 2011.

Hanna's administration wants a leaner staff and more efficient services. The goals require consolidations that affect all departments, but none more directly than the city's forestry and public works personnel.

Also on the table, though fairly late in the year as budget planning goes, is a review of health insurance contributions for city workers

The article notes [t]he library is preparing for several changes. It is reducing monitoring and cleaning hours, axing a half-time position in graphic design and doing energy upgrades.

'Deliverance' at 40

One of "The 75 Books Every Man Should Read"
Esquire, September 18, 2008

Link to August 25 New York Times article, "Deliverance: A Dark Heart Still Beating".

Excerpt: On the page and off, James Dickey (1923-1997) was a maximalist. His roomy, loquacious poems spill down the page in a waterfall style and in a voice he called “country surrealism.” It makes sense that he called some of these poems “walls of words,” similar to the record producer Phil Spector’s echoing “wall of sound.” Dickey’s music, rougher and weirder than Mr. Spector’s, was similarly packed with reverb.

It’s odd, then, that Dickey is probably best remembered for a spare novel, one from which he stripped most of the poetry, pulling out the finer phrasings like weeds. That novel was his first, “Deliverance” (1970), a book that turns a youthful 40 this year. It’s a novel that I was happy to discover upon rereading it by a deep lake this summer — Dickey’s stuff is always best read beside a vaguely sinister body of water — has lost little of its sleekness or power. The book’s anniversary shouldn’t slip by unnoticed.

“Deliverance” is the kind of novel few serious writers attempt any longer, a book about wilderness and survival whose DNA contains shards of both “Heart of Darkness” and “Huckleberry Finn.” It tells the story of four mild, middle-class men from suburban Atlanta who embark on a canoe trip, snaking down a remote Georgia river that will soon disappear beneath a dam. In the woods they find boiling rapids and two sinister mountain men. Before the novel is over, the carnage is nearly complete: three men have been crudely buried, one has been raped, and the survivors have had the bark peeled from their modern sensibilities

Like Retiring Guy, most folks are probably more familiar with the movie than the book.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Demographics of Book Buyers

Link to August 24 Bowker news release, "Bowker Updates Groundbreaking Consumer-Focused Research Report for Book Industry".

Excerpt:  However, it’s the demographics of book buyers that make the Report an essential read for any book industry maven. The report reveals income levels, age, generation and more. For example,

  • More than 40% of Americans over the age of 13 purchased a book in 2009 and the average age of the American book buyer is 42.
  • Women lead men in overall purchases, contributing 64% of sales. Even among detective and thriller genres, women top 60% of the sales. Where do men catch up? Fantasy titles are purchased evenly by men and women.
  • Baby Boomers spend. The boomer generation is the largest purchasing generation, making up 30% of sales. Their elders – Matures – contribute 16%.
  • More income doesn’t mean more book purchases. 32% of the books purchased in 2009 were from households earning less than $35,000 annual and 20% of those sales were for children’s books.
  • Americans like people. The biggest selling non-fiction genre is biography – auto and otherwise. 

Robots Do the Darndest Things

With apologies to Art Linkletter.

(via Bad Astronomy/Discover Magazine)

Tacoma Public Library Receives 309 Applications for 1 Job

The Library Assistant job is closed, but a Library Branch Manager position is still open.

Link to August 24 Tacoma News-Tribune article, "309 people vie for Tacoma library opening".  (via Drudge Retort)

Excerpt: Wanted for hire: Library assistant.

Qualifications: High school graduate or equivalent.

Pay range: $15.81 to $19.23 per hour.

Posted for only a week, an entry-level opening for a librarian’s assistant drew 309 job seekers to a crowded meeting hall Monday in South Tacoma, all vying to land a coveted city job with benefits during a difficult economy

Budget Woes Continue at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

Link to August 25 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article, "Carnegie Library pleads for more RAD funds".

Excerpt:   [Library Director Barbara K.] Mistick blamed the library's woes almost exclusively on the state, telling RAD board members that aid had been cut by more than $2 million in the last two years alone. She said more cuts may be on the way, as the state itself tries to make ends meet.

"We're in a deeper hole than we were last year. This is extremely discouraging, as you can imagine," Ms. Lazo said.

Ms. Mistick added that the library had done everything it could to trim expenses, including cuts in staff and hours. She said there was not much left to chop, other than branches.

"If we cut, it's into muscle," she said.

The state has allocated a portion of the revenue from table games in Pennsylvania casinos to the library, but Ms. Mistick said that was not expected to kick in until 2011.

Even then, it's unclear exactly how much money it will receive, with estimates ranging from $200,000 to $800,000 a year. Even at the high end, that would not be enough to cover the expected deficit, Ms. Mistick noted.

RAD stopgap funding would allow the library to operate all branches and maintain the same hours, staff and services in 2011, she said. Without it, "I'm sure we would have to make some very difficult decisions," she said

Related articles:
Ravenstahl calls Carnegie Library's finances into question.  (5/28/2010)
City council approves $640,000 grant for library.  (5/26/2010)
City council vote may save branches.  (12/1/2009)
Pittsburgh's declining population major factor in library funding crisis.  (11/8/2009)
Changes anger community.  (10/31/2009)

Readers Getting Less 'Physical'? (Quote of the Day)

No pressure on these shelves.

Link to August 25 New York Times article, "Book Chain Reports Loss as It Fights With Investor".

Excerpt:  “Our physical trade book business continues to be under some pressure,” its [Barnes & Noble's] chief executive, William Lynch, said in a conference call. He said that the company would continue to spend a significant portion of its financial resources to strengthen its digital businesses.

Oh crap, now I can't get that Olivia Newton-John song out of my head!

Meet Jo Ann Rodgers, Charlotte Mecklenburg Branch Manager

Link to August 25 Charlotte Observer article, "Library manager makes reading fun".

Excerpt: In addition to her career with the Mecklenburg County library system, Rodgers, now a Huntersville resident, is proud of her two adult daughters, Malia Rodgers and Crystal Westbrook, and her husband of 41 years, Jimmy. Spend five minutes with Rodgers, and it's obvious that family and reading go hand in hand for her.

Rodgers brags about all the hours Jimmy volunteers with the library. He shares his wife's passion for reading and attends community events, including one at Birkdale Village recently where the entire family was present.

Rodgers is recruiting volunteers for the North County Regional Library, which needs greeters, people to help with self-checkout and people with an expertise in computers to teach basic how-to classes

Top Ten List: Where the Bedbugs Are Most Likely to Bite

Link to August 24 New York magazine "Daily Intel" article, "Six Cities Worse Than New York in Terms of Bedbugs, Most Other Things".

Excerpt: The Daily Beast reached out to the pest-control company Orkin to find which American cities had the most bedbug treatments from January 2008 to July 2010, and New York ended up at No. 7, so maybe it's time to cool it on the citywide panic. Here's the full list:

#1. Cincinnati, Ohio

#2. Columbus, Ohio

#3. Chicago, Illinois

#4. Denver, Colorado

#5. Detroit, Michigan

#6. Washington, D.C.

#7. New York, New York

#8. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

#9. Dayton, Ohio

#10. Baltimore, Maryland

Another pest-extermination company begs to differ: Terminix ranks Phila. No. 2 behind NYC for infestation of the blood-sucking pests

Wired Wisconsin: More Than Half of All Wi-Fi Hotspots Now Free

Retiring Guy wants to know:  How can you not mention libraries?

From the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Channel Weekly, July 1, 2010:

The 2010 Public Library Funding & Technology Access Study also finds that:
  • 67 percent of libraries report they are the only provider of free public access to computers and the Internet in their communities;
  • Public computer and Wi-Fi use was up last year for more than 70 percent of all libraries;
  • 89 percent of libraries provide formal or informal technology training, including classes in computer skills, software use and online job-seeking;
  • 82 percent of libraries provide Wi-Fi access;
  • A majority of libraries offer Internet services ranging from subscription databases (95 percent) to online homework resources (88 percent) to ebooks (66 percent); and
  • 66 percent of libraries provide assistance to patrons completing government forms. 
You can contact Wired Wisconsin at

Facebook as the Proverbial Glass House

Link to August 24 Wisconsin State Journal article, "Boys trying to impress girl through vandalism nabbed via Facebook".

Excerpt: Teen boys apparently trying to impress a girl by vandalizing a neighborhood were nabbed after talking about it on Facebook, police reported.

Madison police arrested two 14-year-old boys and a 15-year-old girl on disorderly conduct charges after a vandalism spree on the city's east side the night of Aug. 10. Both boys also were charged with criminal damage to property, and one was charged with throwing stones.

Police found out about the spree when one of the 14-year-old boys posted information about it on Facebook, and the other boy's father saw the information and contacted police

Winnefox Libraries Reimbursed for Lost Fines

Link to August 25 Appleton Post-Crescent article, "Winnefox reimburses Fox Valley area libraries after programming error erased $232,500 in late fees".

Excerpt: The Winnefox Library System will pay nearly $168,000 to 28 member libraries as compensation for its May 27 computer programming error that erased fines for late returns of library materials.

The total represents about 72 percent of the $232,500 in fines that was deleted from the system before the error was caught.

The Oshkosh Public Library will receive $48,560, the Fond du Lac Public Library $35,781, the Neenah Public Library $30,021 and the Menasha Public Library $15,642.

Officials calculated the payments by determining the value of the erased fines and multiplying that by the percentage of fines that each library collected during a 17-month sample period. The payments will be made in September.

Neenah library director Stephen Proces said Neenah's fine revenues have fallen more than 60 percent since the error occurred. He said the $30,021 payment was an acceptable solution

Related article:  
Editorial:  Don't punish Winnefox for lost fines.  (6/18/2010)
Winnefox attempts to calculate extent of fine loss.  (6/12/2010)
Computer glitch erases library fines.  (6/11/2010)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

'Meet you at the Cube'

Link to August 21 Denver Post article, "The NewsCube opening on 16th Street Mall median".  (via Columbia Journalism Review)

Excerpt: A full-service newsstand called the NewsCube will open on downtown Denver's 16th Street Mall early next week.

Entrepreneur Molly Graham describes her concept as a 21st-century newsstand. It will feature flat-panel TVs displaying breaking news and popular sports events, and music will sometimes play from the stand. In addition, the cube-shaped stand located on the median strip at 16th and California streets will sell more than 400 magazine titles and 15 different newspapers, including The Denver Post.

Outdoor newsstands are nothing new, but when Graham moved back to Denver from Los Angeles, she wondered why the growing city didn't have one.

"I'm the impulsive person that buys all the magazines," she said. Now, Graham wants her self-funded newsstand to draw large numbers of passers-by like the ones she used to see in Los Angeles.

"We want people standing around if there's something serious on CNN," Graham said. "We want people to say, 'We'll meet you at the Cube.'

It's been quite a few years since I've made an impulsive magazine purchase.  (Anyone else still miss Pic-a-Book?  Used to be next door to the Exclusive Company on State Street in Madison.  Stocked a great selection of magazines.)  And now that I almost always use the self-service option at grocery stores, I rarely get to browse the covers of National Enquirer and all the rest of 'em.  Best of luck, Molly, but I think the era of the newsstand, open-air or otherwise (see pic that accompanies the Post article), is passing us by.

Political Bloggers Cash In

Link to August 24 The Daily Caller report, "True stories of bloggers who feed on partisan cash".

Excerpt: “It’s standard operating procedure” to pay bloggers for favorable coverage, says one Republican campaign operative. A GOP blogger-for-hire estimates that “at least half the bloggers that are out there” on the Republican side “are getting remuneration in some way beyond ad sales.


On the left, many of the once independent bloggers are now employed by, or receive money from, liberal organizations like Media Matters, the Center for American Progress and Campaign for America’s Future.

Fun With Numbers: Russ Feingold's Re-election Chances

Best box score ever.

Link to August 24 Smart Politics post, "What Does Wisconsin History Say About Russ Feingold's Chances in 2010?"

Excerpt: With three-term Wisconsin U.S. Senator Russ Feingold running next-and-neck with likely Republican nominee Rob Johnson for this November's election, and momentum continuing to swing towards the GOP nationwide, there is one bit of Badger State election history that is in the Democratic Senator's favor.

Retiring Guy wonders if most political statistics junkies honed their skills with baseball box scores.

'Newsweek' on the Library Funding Crisis

(Apologies for the fuzziness of the screenshot.)

Link to August 23 Newsweek article, "Closing the Books? Libraries across the U.S. are facing funding crises as they become the latest victims of the recession". (Thanks to my wife for this catch.)

Excerpt: In July, the Charlotte, N.C., library adopted a new budget that slashed nearly 30 percent of its funding and about 300 employees. In New York, libraries narrowly dodged an $82 million round of cuts thanks to public outcry earlier this year. The Milwaukee library system adopted austerity measures, only to find itself penalized for cutting too far. And the Free Library of Philadelphia only avoided a total shutdown through an act of the Pennsylvania State Senate.

A majority of the country’s library systems are having to make cuts, according to the American Library Association, and many of those cutbacks are quite devastating, even if the headline numbers aren’t as large. As cities and counties deal with the slow recovery, the budgets many of them adopted this summer for the 2011 fiscal year have placed large chunks of library funding on the block. For desperate officials, it’s a soft target, but librarians warn that cutting hours and positions might actually slow down the pace of recovery.

“Even back in the late 1970s inflationary times, I’ve never seen anything like this,” says Roberta Stevens, who’s on leave from a post at the Library of Congress to hold the presidency of the ALA. The stakes are high, she says: “We’re really talking about being not just a successful democracy but also in terms of global competitiveness. You don’t like to use these words, but they’ve always been about information literacy, and at this time, with such a wealth of information out there, you really need librarians to help you sort through what is out there

Basically a depressing rehash for regular readers of this blog about the ongoing cuts in funding for libraries.

Based on the information presented in the American Libraries Summer 2010 digital supplement, "Public Library Funding Landscape", urban libraries have been hit the hardest.  (Please note:  right now, apparently, every link at the AL website results in a "Page Could Not Be Loaded" error message.)

Video Telephony Makes Another Pass

Source:  Technologizer

Link to August 23 report, "Video Telephony: The Next Big Thing. Again."

Excerpt: Video telephony has been the next big thing for decades. AT&T introduced the concept at the 1964 World's Fair in New York City. Each decade since there have been major attempts to get the technology to go mainstream. But the obstacles have been enormous. Besides being quite costly (Cisco's Telepresence rooms run between $300,000 to $500,000, per site), the broadband pipes aren't in place to bring video telephony to the masses. And while point-to-point video conferencing has come down in price, it still costs between $10,000 to $50,000 per location, plus bandwidth charges.

After 50 years of trying to make video telephony a mainstream reality, there are some bright spots on the horizon. Bandwidth costs are coming down, and higher speed networks are becoming available in more and more homes. Two particular technologies I have played with recently make me think that things are finally looking up and that wide scale adoption of business video conferencing and video telephony for personal use is not that far off

Related article:
Technologizer presents a 14-slide history of the videophone.  (6/14/2010)

"Revolutionary Voices": A Not-so-Sweet Decision

It's outta here!

Link to August 5 (Cherry Hill, NJ) Courier-Post article, "Second library removes gay book".  (via Library Link of the Day.)

Excerpt: A gay-themed book, which was pulled from a local high school's library after a resident objected to its content, has also been yanked from Burlington County's library system.

The county system's decision to remove "Revolutionary Voices," an anthology of first-person works by gay youths, was made quietly in the spring. But it's now stirring an online furor with the release of e-mails on the issue by the county's library director, Gail Sweet.

"How can we grab the books so that they never, ever get back into circulation?" Sweet asked in one e-mail to a library employee. "Copies need to totally disappear (as in not a good idea to send copies to the book sale)."

Article on Google Books Settlement from the Summer 2010 Issue of Antitrust

For those who like their reading heavily footnoted.

Link to American Bar Association Antitrust magazine website.

Link to National Economic Research Associates website, which provides a link to the full-text article, "The Proposed Google Books Settlement: Copyright, Rule 23, and DOJ Section 2 Enforcement", by Gregory K. Leonard.

Intro excerpt:  The proposed Google Books settlement raises a number of interesting issues.  The Department of Justice has objected to the settlement on antitrust and other grounds, and its antitrust objections provide a window into the current administration’s stance toward antitrust enforcement,
especially Section 2 enforcement. 

In addition, if the Google Books settlement is ultimately approved by the court, that could have important implications for how class action settlements are negotiated in the future. The adoption of the class action mechanism in the U.S. legal system was motivated by efficiency. The proposed Google Books settlement, in resolving a purported class action, similarly generates substantial efficiencies.The central question is whether these efficiencies are sufficient to outweigh the objections raised by critics of the settlement.

So....what got me here?

Step 1:  Link to August 21, 2010, New York Times obituary, "Harrison Price, a Planner of Disney Parks, Dies at 89".   Which I found to be fascinating reading, particularly the concept of "leisure-time economic analysis".  (Only 8 hits when you google the phrase in quotes.)

Step 2: 

Step 3:   The NERA Economic Consulting website, which is not the same as this.  (Just out of curiosity, I typed 'libraries' in the NERA search box.  2 results, one of which you'll find linked above)

And there you have it.

Hyattsville, Maryland: Another Weeding Tempest

19 locations share an online catalog

Link to August 19 Washington Post article, "Plans to cut Hyattsville library's collection draw protests".

Excerpt: Concerned patrons have asked the Prince George's County library system to reconsider plans to reduce the collection of the Hyattsville branch by more than 60,000 items.

Librarians have been working for more than a month to scale down the collection from about 226,000 items to about 160,000. The building was initially designed to hold 200,000.

The process, known as "weeding," removes books that are outdated, in poor condition or unpopular -- usually meaning they haven't been checked out in two or more years. One reason for the reduction is a planned renovation and expansion of the branch expected to begin in 2012, said library director Kathleen Teaze. Planning money for the renovation is in the county's fiscal 2011 budget, Teaze said

Retiring Guy thinks some weeding is probably in order.
Source:  Maryland Public Library Statistics (2008)

New Jersey's Orange Public Library Reopens After Lead Paint Fix

Link to August 24 Newark Star-Ledger article.

Excerpt:   After shutting down for two months to clean up chipping lead paint found peeling from the walls, the Orange Public Library has reopened in time for the new school year.

The remediation cost $43,000 and came from the library’s budget, said John Mason, Orange business administrator.

Built in 1901, the Orange Public Library at 348 Main St. is Essex County’s oldest and is registered as a national historic site. Lead-based paints were in common use in buildings constructed before 1978, said Vincent DeFilippo, Orange health inspector

Related article:
Library closes due to lead paint and asbestos hazards.  (5/12/2010)

Candidates' Debate Attracts Large Crowd at Mead Public Library

Link to August 24 Sheboygan Press article, "Assembly candidates square off in debate.  Candidates draw a full house at Rocca Room".

Excerpt: About 100 people packed into the Rocca Meeting Room at the Mead Public Library Monday night to hear incumbent state Rep. Terry Van Akkeren and former Sheboygan Mayor Juan Perez argue over who most deserves to be elected to represent the 26th Assembly District.

The candidates, both Democrats, took veiled digs at the other from the very beginning.

"People want a hardworking representative with drive and initiative," Perez said in his opening statement. "Right now we don't have that."

Van Akkeren said he best "represents the values of the Democratic Party. I believe in the core values of the Democratic Party."

Van Akkeren touted his voting record has supporting jobs initiatives statewide and in the Sheboygan area and as having a solid record supporting conservation issues.

Perez said he has a reputation for "getting things done and keeping my promises."

Appleton Public Library Gets Thumbs Up for Great Teen Programs

Link to August 23 letter to the Appleton Post-Crescent, "Appleton library has great programs for teens".

California State Librarian Emeritus Authors Book on Golden Gate Bridge

Link to August 24 New York Times book review, "The Building of a Symbol: How It Got There, and Why It’s Orange".

Excerpt:   Despite the many existing odes to the Golden Gate Bridge, Kevin Starr seems particularly well equipped to write a biography of that famous orange bridge. The author of more than half a dozen histories of California, Mr. Starr — a professor of history at the University of Southern California and state librarian of California emeritus — has written frequently about the myths and metaphors that festoon the Golden State, and he seems to instinctively understand the place that the Golden Gate Bridge has come to occupy in the national imagination as a symbol of American enterprise and the gateway to the Pacific.

Excerpt from chapter 1.

Kevin Starr's USC College of Letters, Arts & Sciences webpage.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Reattaching the Cord

Link to August 23 New York Times article, "In the Living Room, Hooked on Pay TV".

Excerpt: These are confusing times in the living room. The proliferation of Internet video has led to much talk of “cord-cutting” — a term that has come to mean canceling traditional pay TV and replacing it with programming from a grab bag of online sources.

But so far Americans are not doing this in any meaningful numbers. “Nor is there any evidence of it emerging in the near future,” said Bruce Leichtman, the president of Leichtman Research Group, which studies consumer media habits.

This is all the more remarkable, industry analysts say, because it seems to defy the way the Internet has disrupted and challenged virtually every other major form of media — from music to newspapers to books.

In part that is because the television business took action to avoid the same fate. Heavyweight distributors and producers have protected their business models by ensuring that some must-see shows and live sporting events cannot legally be seen online

Felton Branch of Santa Cruz Public Libraries Open Just 8 Hours Per Week

What about the other branch locations? Retiring Guy wonders.
Santa Cruz Public Libraries has a geographically large service area.

The hours of operation grid.

Link to August 10 Santa Cruz News article, "Santa Cruz libraries not out of the red yet".

Excerpt: Cuts to public libraries are taking their toll on the system. Libraries across the Santa Cruz County system (which excludes Watsonville) are reporting a 26 percent decline in the number of people they are serving now that hours have been reduced. At the same time, they are also experiencing a 40 percent increase in the number of people who use the libraries when they are open.

In other words, the total number of library visits is down 26%, but library visits per hour are up 40%.  At least that's how Retiring Guy translates the above paragraph.