Saturday, September 17, 2011

Gwinnett County Public Library: Cuts in Funding = Reduced Hours (Proposed)

Gwinnett libraries might close two days a week.   (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 9/16/2011)

Excerpt:   Gwinnett County library patrons might find their local branch closed two days each week if a plan to balance the budget by reducing hours is approved.

The library system is struggling to cope with lost funding from the county and state this year and library officials say cuts made in staffing hasn't been enough to keep the doors open seven days a week.

Though the details have not been decided, Executive Director Nancy Stanbery-Kellam announced a proposal last week to reduce library hours from 53 per week to 40. The library’s Board of Trustees could vote on a specific plan in November.

Deputy Director Liz Forster said library officials will consider feedback from patrons when deciding when Gwinnett’s 15 library branches will close, but added, “It won’t make everybody happy, no matter what.”

Library officials have warned that hours would be reduced since the Gwinnett Board of Commissioners cut library funding by $2.8 million – or 15 percent – in January. The library also lost $138,000 in state funding this year, a 13 percent reduction

Related articles:
Gwinnett libraries continue to struggle.  (5/10/2011)
Metro Atlanta public libraries continue to tighten their belts.  (1/26/2011)
Gwinnett County Library budget cut by 15%. (1/8/2011)
Library's 2011 Budget cut by 15%.  (12/2/2010)

Georgia Juror in a Shouldawouldacoulda Mood

DeKalb juror: Decatur library case should never have reached court. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 9/16/2011)

Excerpt:   “As an adult in the library or the officer outside, this shouldn’t have gotten to that point,” Simmons said. “The supervisor could’ve talked to her for more than the two minutes she said she did. And the officer could’ve said, ‘tell me a little bit about what’s going on.

“But he didn’t, and she didn’t. Both said ‘move on.’”

Simmons said such behavior on the part of the adults is frightening, considering the potential trouble teens and youth can find themselves in when they don’t feel they're being heard.

“I think we all need to sit back and watch how we handle these young people,” he said “I don’t think it would’ve escalated if they had taken time to address the issue.”

Related posts:
Georgia library fracas leads to guilty verdict.  (9/15/2011)
Georgia woman faces possible jail time for library incident.  (9/4/2011)
Mom and her 'noisy' 14-month-old toddler booted from library.  (11/2/2010)

Short for Hawkeyes: Hawks or Hawkes?

BCCB Lawsuit Update from UW Extension

Related WiscNet/BCCB posts:
More of the same from telcos in broadband dispute.  (8/21/2011)
Jeff Dawson sheds some light on WiscNet.  (8/10/2011)
About the Access Wisconsin lawsuit.  (8/5/2011)
Case summary with names of defendants' attorneys.  (8/4/2011)
An example of how advocacy works.  (7/31/2011)
From Peter C. Anderson's Court Official Calendar for Dane County.  (7/24/2011)
Lawsuit update and summary.  (7/22/2011)
Judge Anderson denies UW broadband restraining order.  (7/21/2011)
Plaintiffs v. Defendants.  (7/20/2011)
Telcos whine while Wisconsin falls behind.  (7/20/2011)
Access Wisconsin news release.  (7/19/2011)
LRB clarifies WiscNet veto. (6/30/2011)
WiscNet:  Moving Forward.  (6/30/2011)
Walker's WiscNet veto:  What does it mean?  (6/27/2011)
Rest assured they'll be more fights in this battle.  (6/24/2011)
Wisconsin Senate passes budget.  (6/17/2011)
Amendment update.    (6/16/2011)
Assembly passes budget at 3:05 a.m.  (6/16/2011)
Wispolitics budget blog.  (6/15/2011)
Wisconsin ranks 43rd for broadband Internet coverage.  (6/15/2011)
Ron Kind news release.  (6/15/2011)
Assembly 8.  (6/15/2011)
Highest level alert.  (6/15/2011)
This is what democracy looks like.  (6/15/2011)
WSTA's day of disappointment.  (6/14/2011)
They can hear us now.  (6/14/2011)
Appleton Post-Crescent editorial.  (6/14/2011)
YouTube video.  (6/14/2011)
Hedberg Public Library promotes WiscNet.  (6/14/2011)
League of Wisconsin Municipalities press release.  (6/14/2011)
UW General Counsel opinion.  (6/13/2011)
Ars Technica WiscNet coverage.  (6/13/2011)
Wausau Daily Herald editorial.  (6/13/2011)
If your representative is Robin Vos...   (9/13/2011)
Baraboo School Board unhappy with JFC WiscNet action.  (6/13/2011)
WiscNet debate from the NE WI prospective.  (6/12/2011)
David Weinhold letter to editor.  (6122010
Rep. Moelpske's statement. (6/11/2011)
COLAND letter to Sen. Fitzgerald.  (6/10/2011)
Rhonda Puntney's op-ed piece.  (6/10/2011)
Nass letter to Fitzgerald and Vos.  (6/9/2011)
CINC response.  (6/9/2011)
UW response.  (6/9/2011)
Manna from heaven.  (6/8/2011)

No shades necessary when looking at this employment landscape

Searching for Bright Spots in the New Wisconsin Job Creation Figures. (Wisconsin Budget Project, 9/16/2011)

Excerpt: It’s clear that overall, the Wisconsin economy is adding jobs more slowly than anyone would like. But how are individual industries doing? Are some adding jobs faster than others? To find out, I compared jobs figures for August 2010 and August 2011 (which are preliminary and subject to change) to identify any potential bright spots in the Wisconsin economy.

Unfortunately, even the good news is mixed. The industry in Wisconsin that added jobs at the fastest rate over the last year is what the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics refers to as “arts, entertainment, and recreation.” This category includes a wide variety of people working in businesses related to tourism, recreation, and leisure, including receptionists, security guards, groundsworkers, janitors, cashiers, and food service workers.

The good news is that over the last year, Wisconsin added 7,400 workers in the arts, entertainment, and recreation industry, increasing the number of jobs in this industry by a whopping 21 percent. The bad news is that these are low-paying jobs and are often seasonal or part-time
.  [Emphasis added.]

H. G. Wells, the Forgotten Man

2 copies/3 holds in LINKcat

H. G. Wells/ other side. (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 9/16/2011)

Excerpt: He not only gave us time machines and a war of the worlds, but also foresaw the tank, air warfare, the atomic bomb and the Internet.

He crusaded tirelessly for workers, world government and women's rights, interviewed both Presidents Roosevelt as well as Lenin and Stalin, and hobnobbed with Henry James and George Bernard Shaw.

He wrote more than 100 books and slept with more than 100 women.

And having anticipated so much of the future, H.G. Wells also correctly predicted that he would be forgotten.

Orwell once said that no writer between 1900 and 1920 had a greater influence on the young, but long before Wells died in 1946, he was already a has-been.

In "A Man of Parts," David Lodge combines the generosity he has consistently shown as both a novelist and a critic to bring Wells back from the dead.

Although he calls his book a novel, Lodge's introductory note - echoing the similar note with which he introduced his tender biographical novel on Henry James - makes clear that "all the characters are portrayals of real people, and the relationships between them were as described in these pages."

Forgotten?  Apparently.

Commandeered by Steven Spielberg.

I prefer the 1953 version.

A Case of Irrational Fear of Roundabouts Breaks Out in Mauston Wisconsin

The Many Benefits of Roundabouts.  (Governing, July 2011)

Not in My Town:  America's Resistance to the Roundabout.  (CarScoop, November 24, 2010)

In some cases, new ordinance would allow police to see what books, DVDs (primarily), music, and games people are stealing from libraries

How many of these DVDs ended up in a secondhand store or on eBay?  (As opposed to the thieves' home libraries.)

Crime and Courts: Proposed resale shop ordinance raises Big Brother concerns. (Capital Times, 9/17/2011)

Read more:
Excerpt: Have some books or movies you want to get rid of? Under a proposed Madison city ordinance, if you sell them to a secondhand store your personal information and a photo will be entered into a police database. And that has raised concerns from local business owners and civil rights advocates.

The proposal is designed to catch addicts and crooks who go to secondhand stores and pawn shops to unload stolen goods like computers, TVs, iPods and other commonly pilfered items for cash. But a provision in the proposal, which passed the city Public Safety Review Committee on Wednesday on a 4-1 vote, also contains language that would include books, CDs, movies and other media. The ordinance could be considered by the City Council as soon as Tuesday.

It would require a photo and other personal information about anyone who sold an item to a business to be included in the database, allowing police to see what books people read, what movies they watch, what music they listen to and what computer games they play
.  [Emphasis added.]

That would be in a perfect world.

Robots Get a More Well-Rounded Education

School: It's way more boring than when you were there. (Salon, 9/14/2011)

Excerpt: Forty-nine million or so American children have returned to public school classrooms that are, according to many critics, ever more boring. Preparation for increasingly high-stakes tests has reduced time for social studies and science. Austerity state and federal budgets are decimating already hobbled music, art, library and physical education budgets.

"When reading and math count and nothing else does, then less time and resources are devoted to non-tested subjects like the arts, science, history, civics and so on," education historian Diane Ravitch, a well-known high-stakes testing critic and one-time proponent, writes in an email to Salon.

Supporters of the self-described "education reform" movement counter that evaluating teachers based on test scores is the only way to ensure good teaching, and that focused attention on reading and math is necessary to boost poor students' achievement.

But the achievement gap is still wide, and there is (hotly disputed) evidence that students are afforded less time for creative inquiry.

Friday, September 16, 2011

And you want to vote Republican because......?




...too many people like bat-shit crazy.

Gov. Walker knows nothing, nothing!

Civic Health and Unemployment: Can Engagement Strengthen the Economy?

Stateline: State-by-state comparisons of student loan default and unemployment rates

Infographic: Student loan defaults rise as job prospects dim. Infographic by Mary Mahling, Carla Uriona and Ben Wieder. (Stateline, 9/16/2011)

The L.A.Times on Ebooks: An Amazon Tablet, Push into Interactivity

E-books push deeper into interactive territory. (Los Angeles Times, 9/18/2011)

Excerpt: If there's already a tablet in your house — an iPad or an Android-driven one — then this fall, e-books will be all about interactivity. If you don't have a tablet yet, keep your eye on Amazon.

Industry watchers have been predicting that Amazon will introduce a tablet later this year — if so, it stands to be a big hit. In August, the technology and market analysis firm Forrester Research said that Amazon could sell between 3 million and 5 million tablets in the last quarter of this year, if the company prices the (not-yet-announced) device at $300 or less.

Amazon proved it could transform the publishing landscape by introducing its Kindle e-reader in November 2007. Before that, e-books were an oddity, and e-readers strange, unloved creatures. After Amazon put the Kindle in front of book buyers, everything changed; readers embraced the device. Last summer, the online bookseller saw e-book sales overtake its print book sales. During the first half of this year, Random House, the world's biggest publisher, saw more than 20% of its U.S. revenue come from e-book

The Economist: "Great Digital Expectations"

The Christian Science Monitor jumps off the bookwagon, too.

Great digital expectations. (The Economist, 9/10/2011)

Excerpt:   To see how profoundly the book business is changing, watch the shelves. Next month IKEA will introduce a new, deeper version of its ubiquitous “BILLY” bookcase. The flat-pack furniture giant is already promoting glass doors for its bookshelves. The firm reckons customers will increasingly use them for ornaments, tchotchkes and the odd coffee-table tome—anything, that is, except books that are actually read.

In the first five months of this year sales of consumer e-books in America overtook those from adult hardback books. Just a year earlier hardbacks had been worth more than three times as much as e-books, according to the Association of American Publishers. Amazon now sells more copies of e-books than paper books. The drift to digits will speed up as bookshops close. Borders, once a retail behemoth, is liquidating all of its American stores.

Having started rather late, books are swiftly following music and newspapers into the digital world. Publishers believe their journey will be different, and that they will not suffer the fate of those industries by going into slow decline. Publishers’ experience will, indeed, be different—but not necessarily better.

In some ways the transition from paper to digital distribution is a boon. E-books currently have high profit margins, and are free from many of the drawbacks of print. Peter Osnos, the founder of PublicAffairs Books, says the biggest challenge small publishers face is managing their inventories. Print too many books, and lots of them will be returned by stores. Print too few and publishers will forgo sales while they order reprints (at higher prices). None of these problems exists when distributing books digitally

Donna Hayes, chief executive of Harlequin, 
says digitisation has given new life to old books.

Yet these advantages are outweighed
 by several looming hazards. The first is piracy.

Link to March 1, 2010, New York Times article, "Math of Publishing Meets the E-Book".

...the gradual disappearance of the shop window.

Related posts:
Lev Grossman presents a short history of the reading device..  (9/6/2011)
Speaking of gadgets, here's the latest iteration of ebooks.  (8/25/2011)
Sounds like another digital divide in the making.  (7/30/2011)
Libraries and ebooks:  Any book, not any time soon.  (6/1/2011)
On the distinction between the book reader and the book owner.  (5/10/2011)
Demand for ebooks grows exponentially in Wisconsin.  (5/2/2011)
Struggling to find an ebook common agenda between libraries and publishers.  (4/5/2011)
Ebooks and libraries:  "The challenges just keep piling up".  (3/28/2011)
Publishers Weekly tracks ebook sales.  (3/18/2011)
Word is getting out:  Ebooks @ your library.  (3/18/2011)
Ebooks continue to gain market share.  (3/17/2011)
Publishers look to bottom line in formulating ebook policies for libraries. (3/15/2011)
News stories on HarperCollins ebook decision go mainstream.  (3/5/2011)
9 years of book sales:  trade and ebook.  (2/17/2011)
Will ebook readers be wooed by Barbara Cartland?  (2/12/2011)
The impact of ebooks on libraries.  (2/11/2011)
OverDrive news release: Library eBook circs up 200% in '10. (1/10/2011)
Mashable: 5 ebook trends that will change the future of publishing. (12/29/2010)
Christmas 2010 the tipping point for ebooks?  (12/24/2010)
Ereader as brown paper bag.  (12/9/2010)
The ebook reader compatibility surprise.  (12/3/2010)
Ereader ownership:  Survey says....  (11/30/2010)
David Carnoy asks, "Does the Kindle pay for itself?" (11/29/2010)
Need to repair that ebook reader?  (11/19/2010)
Who uses an ereader:  Survey says....  (9/22/2010)
Book industry wrestles with print vs. pixels.  (9/2/2010)
Coming soon to a screen near you:  Ads in ebooks.  (8/20/2010)
Ebooks now comprise 8/5% of book sales. (8/12/2010)
Genre paperback publishers drops print.  (8/6/2010)
Ebooks and libraries.  (5/4/2010)
Ebooks eliminate a free form of adversiting:  the book jacket.  (3/31/2010)
Ebooks: another round of false promises?  (3/19/2010)
The skinny on ebooks.  (3/8/2010)
Hardcover vs. ebook:  Breaking down the costs.  (3/1/2010)

Tony Evers' 2011 State of Education Address

Low Vision Support Groups, Tax Exemption for Equipment, Cooperative Minnesota Project

Tax breaks for visual aids remain out of sight. (Baraboo News Republic, 9/15/2011)

Excerpt:    Joan Wucherer began losing her vision in 2000, but she hasn't lost sight of helping those who are blind or visually impaired.

"I guess you can call it my own personal crusade," she said. "I want to help reduce the costs of the equipment that people who are blind or visually impaired need to buy in order to adapt to every day living."

When she was 66, Wucherer was diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration, a disease that over time destroys a person's vision. She was working at a local clinic taking blood, but when her vision began going she had to retire.

"I was going bonkers," she said. "I didn't know what I was going to do."

But her outlook changed once she began meeting new people and making friends at the Baraboo Senior Center. Some of them had vision problems similar to her own.

Now 77, she uses a closed circuit television, which can magnify and manipulate the brightness and contrast of images to help her read her checkbook, letters and cards.

But those specialized televisions cost about $3,000, and the magnifying glasses she uses can cost up to $2,000.

"The closed circuit televisions are like cars; once they leave the showroom their values go down," she said. "They're expensive to fix, too

Though I don't claim to have done a comprehensive search, this is the most impressive collaborative low-vision program I found this morning.

(Yesterday I learned that the City of Marshfield has begun a design development process for a library/community center facility to gather public input about the building style and the services people want integrated into it.  To me, this brings to mind the concept of the library as the anchor store of a community services mall.)

Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development: The Disappearance of the Subhead

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Joe's thinkin', Keep it up, Todd, and my book will soon be #1

No copies in LINKcat.

Georgia Library Fracas Leads to Guilty Verdict

Jury finds mom guilty in Decatur library case. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 9/15/2011)

Excerpt:    After deliberating for 90 minutes, a DeKalb County jury Wednesday night found the mother arrested in a fracas over her baby at the Decatur public library guilty of obstructing a law enforcement officer.

Judge Janis C. Gordon told Foster she also would have to perform 40 hours of community service and attend three parenting classes, three child impact classes, three "Alternative Path for Women" classes, and a day-long intensive anger management class.

Judge Janis C. Gordon told Foster she also would have to perform 40 hours of community service and attend three parenting classes, three child impact classes, three "Alternative Path for Women" classes, and a day-long intensive anger management class.

Foster could have gotten up to a year in jail.

In a statement issued Wednesday night, DeKalb Solicitor-General Sherry Boston said, "The bottom line is that this defendant was given a simple, lawful command to leave the library more than a dozen times by a police sergeant who was using a clear and calm voice."

Foster, in response, "ranted, vented, complained and cursed" for 48 minutes and refused to obey the officer, leaving him "no choice but to arrest the defendant," Boston said.

Related posts:
Georgia woman faces possible jail time for library incident.  (9/4/2011)
Mom and her 'noisy' 14-month-old toddler booted from library.  (11/2/2010)

Design Development for New Marshfield Library/Community Center

Architects seek design input for Marshfield's new library, community center. (Marshfield News Herald, 9/14/2011)

Excerpt:   The architectural firm hired to design Marshfield's new public library and community center will be on hand Thursday to gather public input about the building style and the services people want integrated into it.

The project is slated to break ground in 2014, with an estimated cost of $7.5 million.

"This is the first of a number of events to gather information to help design a new library and community center," said Lori Belongia, library director.

Through earlier community meetings, the city committee leading the project learned that local residents want a space that will meet more needs in the community.

"This was a senior center project, and now it's changed to a community center. It'll still serve the same function as a senior center, but the focus was changed to include the entire community," Belongia said.

The architects, Zimmerman Architectural Studios Inc. of Milwaukee, will show examples of their designs for similar projects

Related articles:
Better to plan for a new library now than when the roof starts to leak.  (11/12/2010)
Design development in progress.  (11/9/2010)
Community input sought for library improvement plans.  (6/9/2010)

Portage Library Board to Make Case to Council for Building Expansion

Library board to make case for expansion to Council next month. (Portage Daily Register, 9/13/2011)

Excerpt:   The Portage Public Library Board continues to gear up for a big meeting with the Portage Common Council in the coming weeks.

The board members soon expect to present their case for partial public financing of their proposed $1.5 million library expansion project. They want the city to contribute a couple hundred thousand dollars.

Library officials said Tuesday at their monthly board meeting that they expect to go in front of the Common Council on Oct. 13 or Oct. 27. The board had expected to present to the Council at the end of August. The presentation, however, was delayed.

Board President Rich Davis is expected to head the presentation to Common Council members, who will have to decide whether the city can afford to contribute to the effort in 2012.

The city is planning for a very tight budget in 2012, and the library is expected to compete with other city infrastructure priorities. The city's final budget for the next year is usually approved near the Thanksgiving holiday.

The library board recently hired a firm to handle a public fund-raising campaign for the expansion project, while other monies could come from foundation grants.

Library Director Shannon Schultz said she hopes to have the library board and members of the volunteer Friends of the Library group in attendance of the Council meeting to show support for the project.

It is unclear how the Common Council might vote on the library expansion project. The topic has been a topic of discussion, but no one has yet made definitive statements of support

Related posts:
Library moves forward with building expansion.  (8/12/2011)
Board approves feasibility study for library expansion.  (7/1/2011)
Board reviews estimates for expansion project.  (6/22/2011)
Library expansion plans continue to develop.  (2/9/2011)
Library expansion to focus on youth services.  (10/15/2010)
Putting together the financial pieces for building expansion.  (5/12/2010)
Library seeks community input for expansion.  (1/13/2010)
Board discussion rental property options.  (11/11/2009)

You Mean I Now Have to Drive to Sequoya to Get That Audiobook?

We're not there (yet).

And I suspect the 13% index level is the source of Tyler Lamb's confusion.  The actual cut to public library system funding is $1,688,100 in first year of the 2011-13 biennium, flat funding in the 2nd year.

Public Library System Funding

Libraries take a hit in funding. (DeForest eNews, 9/14/2011)

Excerpt: After six divisive months of political theater in the state Capitol, Walker signed the 2011-13 state budget into law as Act 32. The measure hits state municipalities hard by cutting funding to key programs like shared revenue and recycling grants.

At the same time, the governor's budget-repair bill also cuts library funding by more than $18 million in 2012 alone, threatening a wide variety of services, including those seeking jobs.

Cuts to Wisconsin's library budgets come in three areas: private, municipal and county. State aid to school libraries was cut by $4.6 million [1] and funding to the state's 17 public library systems - which serves Columbia, Dane and five other counties - was cut by $13.5 million, essentially ending materials sharing.  [Emphasis added.]

The effects of those cuts are exacerbated by Walker's successful elimination of the conditions for participating in the state public library system, which repealed the statutory requirement that local libraries be funded at a level not lower than the average funding for the previous three years. [2]

[1] I must be missing something here.

In 2010, the Common School Fund distributed $32,000,000 in categorical aid payments.

In 2011, the Common School Fund distributed $33,600,000 in categorical aid payments.

[2] A portion of the reporter's explanation of maintenance of effort excludes municipalities and then has me scratching my head. Each county was required to maintain its support for library services at a level not lower than the average of the previous three years. The three-year average was adjusted to reflect cost savings from consolidating services or for a municipality levying its own equivalent tax for library services.

Looks like Tyler might have recycled elements of this Jay Rath Isthmus article.

When I google state aid to school libraries cut by $4.6 million (no quotation marks), all roads lead to Jay.

This article was also published in the Poynette Press under the headline Libraries could face shortfall and the Waunakee TribuneLibraries lose out in state budget.

Goodbye to Cassette Tapes @ the Madison Public Library

Central Library says goodbye to cassettes, tapes. (Wisconsin State Journal, 9/15/2011)

Excerpt: The Central Library, 201 W. Mifflin St., is using the sale to eliminate its entire collections of audio books on cassette and movies and television shows on videocassette — more than 11,000 titles. (There is also an array of fiction and nonfiction books for sale.)

DVDs and books on CD have eclipsed the older formats. Still, the library gets an average of 30 requests daily for either an audiocassette or a VHS movie, said Carol Froistad, community services manager.

"That's not a high number for us, but we know some people will be unhappy," she said.
Molly Raphael, president of the American Library Association, wasn't surprised to hear of Madison's decision. Many libraries have eliminated their cassette and VHS collections or are planning to, she said.

"At a certain point, the use level isn't high enough to take up the valuable real estate in libraries," she said. "That change is sometimes painful to people in the community, but it's how libraries have stayed relevant.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Demand an Answer from These 8 Bozos

Chattanooga's City-Owned Broadband

Pasha Coffee & Tea On Why They Switched To EPB.

Chattanooga Creates Subscriber Testimonials for City Owned Broadband. (Community Broadband Networks, 9/14/2011)

Excerpt: Chattanooga, with the nation's fastest citywide broadband network, offers lessons to many other communities who have built or are building their own networks. Chattanooga is regarded as one of the most successful muni networks in terms of a smooth operation with good advertising and a great back office approach.

They are documenting (with video) the stories of both residents and businesses that have switched to their services from incumbents like AT&T and Comcast (two of the most powerful companies in the US). Below, we include two of our favorites in the series

Sherri Burns Describes Her Experience With Switching To EPB.

Related post:
Chattanooga's Lightning Fast Choo-Choo. (9/13/2011)

Is this the direction Governor Perry wants to take the rest of us?

Oh, I guess this is another rhetorical question. That's two today.

Health Insurance Coverage with New 2010 Data.  (BadgerStat, 9/14/2011)

Best played at maximum volume.

Civic Education in Schools and Libraries

CIRCLE (The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement).  (9/14/2011)

One of the contributing authors notes:   I argue that we already require civic education–with a strong focus on concrete facts about the American political system. As a result, students don’t perform badly on tests of that material.

I would modify his remarks with a phrase:  ...the American political system at the federal level.

I base my observation, perhaps rashly and unfairly, on my experience in the Warren (PA) School District in the late 1950s and 1960s and my sons' experiences in the Middleton-Cross Plains School District in the 1990s and 2000s.  In both cases, coverage of state, county, and local government was essentially nonexistent.

What was your experience?

As for the general public.....

Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.
Political Knowledge Update  [Highlights added]
Well-Known: Clinton and Gadhafi; Little Known: Who Controls Congress
March 31, 2011

I didn't realize this, but September is not only Library Card Sign-Up Month, it's also Civic Engagement Month, sponsored by the International City/County Management Association.

And in the latter case, the Programming Librarian offers examples of how public libraries promote civic engagement in their communities.

The Building That Housed the Princess Theater Still Stands but It Doesn't Have Good Access to the Internet the Princess Theater....

For Idaho and the Internet, Life in the Slow Lane. (The New York Times, 9/14/2011)

Excerpt: And, according to a new study [Pando Networks; not yet "In The News" on website]  they are among the problems that have earned Idaho an unfortunate distinction: it had the slowest Internet speeds in the country earlier this year for residential customers who were downloading things like games — a “dismal” average of 318 kilobytes per second.

Translation: In Idaho, it would take you 9.42 seconds to download a standard music file compared with 3.36 seconds in Rhode Island, the state with the fastest average speeds, at 894 kilobytes per second.

The slowest city, by the way, was also in Idaho: In Pocatello, it would take nearly 12 seconds to download that music file, according to the study by Pando Networks, a company that helps consumers accelerate downloads. In the nation’s fastest city, Andover, Mass., a Boston suburb, it would take just over one second.

Librarian Pamela O'Donnell Featured on UW-Madison News Page

Click here for examples of her responses.