Saturday, May 31, 2008

Brian Simons is New Director at Verona Public Library

Link to May 11 Verona Press article: "Library director eager to face new challenges"

Link to an appreciative overview of Susan Hedrick 3 years as Verona library director. (Verona Press, Feb. 27)

One of Our Essentials

Link to May 17 Rhinelander Daily News article: "Wendt leaves library with legacy of learning". (Provides a great summary of her 34-year career at Rhinelander.)

Quote: In Frank Capra’s film “It’s a Wonderful Life” George Bailey is allowed to see what his community, Bedford Falls, would be like if he hadn’t lived. As generations of local book lovers would no doubt attest, Rhinelander would be a different place if Kris Adams Wendt hadn’t chosen to live and work here.

Turner Classic Movies offers a weekly programs called "The Essentials" -- "movies that define what it means to be a classic."

Well, let me do a little play on words here.

I submit that Kris Adams Wendt is one of our own Essentials, a person who defines what it means to be a librarian. I have known Kris for many years. We have worked together as members of the Wisconsin Library Association's Library Development & Legislation Committee for so long that you'll be forgiven if you think we both have permanent seats. Kris is probably one of the few people whose dedication to library advocacy is stronger and more tenacious than mine. She understands that a great library is more than a smooth-running, service-oriented internal operation and has become a master practitioner in reaching out and making connections.

The good news is that, although I will soon be joining Kris in retirement, neither of us will be going away. At a minimum, we plan to stay active on the legislative side of things. And who knows -- dare I say it -- maybe one or the both of us will consider a run for office one of these years.

Congratulations, Kris. You are one of the Essentials.

Yes, You Are Being Watched

Link to May 31 New York Times article "Billboards That Look Back" by Stephanie Clifford.

Quote: In advertising these days, the brass ring goes to those who can measure everything — how many people see a particular advertisement, when they see it, who they are. All of that is easy on the Internet, and getting easier in television and print.

Billboards are a different story. For the most part, they are still a relic of old-world media, and the best guesses about viewership numbers come from foot traffic counts or highway reports, neither of which guarantees that the people passing by were really looking at the billboard, or that they were the ones sought out.

Now, some entrepreneurs have introduced technology to solve that problem. They are equipping billboards with tiny cameras that gather details about passers-by — their gender, approximate age and how long they looked at the billboard. These details are transmitted to a central database.

Some days it seems as though libraries are the last bastions of privacy.

Collection Development in One Fell Swoop

Link to May 31 New York Times article "Michelangelo for Readers With Deep Pockets".

Quote: But then, this is no ordinary book, starting with its retail price of 100,000 euros, or around $155,000, at Friday’s exchange rate. Included in the price of what its publishers are calling “the most beautiful book in the world” is a sleek black case, its own stand and a 500-year guarantee. (Even if we interlibrary-loan it?)

Link to slide show.

Friday, May 30, 2008

You've Never Heard of Pickle Ball?!

(From "Moments in Philanthropy", an e-newsletter published by the Madison Community Foundation. Reprinted with permission.)

Not Your Traditional Library

Deerfield Public Library has been a hopping place since the arrival of the Madison Community Foundation Library Collections Grant one year ago, according to Kaia Fry, Director. This grant provides $25,000 each to twelve libraries across Dane County to develop unique collections that can be shared throughout the South Central Library System. Focusing the collection on Sports and Fitness, Deerfield staff has created monthly events throughout the community, spotlighting new aspects of the collection by introducing little known sports and fitness regimens.

The introduction of Pickle Ball (a cross between badminton, tennis, and ping pong) materials inspired a winter league with participants from four area villages; a team will be competing in Badger State Games this summer. Nia (nee’- ah), a choreographed combination of martial arts, yoga and dance, was introduced by a certified instructor who led participants through a sample of choreographed movements. Local students and parents were introduced to Sport Stacking, the fastest growing sport in the US. It is an individual and team activity played by stacking plastic cups in pre-determined sequences, competing against the clock or another player. When Loretta Kanthak, a library volunteer, returned from Sweden extolling the benefits of the Nordic Walking System, Kaia invited Karl Fry, a University of Wisconsin physical therapist, to lead an evening training about the sport. A group of walkers now regularly ramble the Glacial Drumlin Bike Trail, Nordic Walking Poles in hand. The library also purchased a Nintendo Wii system with the games Guitar Hero, Table Tennis, and Wii sports, which includes virtual golf, tennis, bowling, baseball, and boxing.

The new collection includes other juvenile and adult non-fiction resources including alternative medicine, nutrition, fibromyalgia, asthma, yoga, snowboarding, go-carting, car racing, martial arts, soccer, baseball, football, basketball and more.

One year into the two year grant cycle, Kaia is delighted by the community response to the materials and programs. “Deerfield is a small community with a limited library budget. We never would have been able to build such an extensive collection and create such community participation without the grant. We still have one year to go in this program, and several local groups are considering a match to portions of the grant to increase the leverage. This will benefit all of South Central Wisconsin as these materials are available through the interlibrary loan system.”

End of the Week Musings

Link to May 30 New York Times article.
"Potter Was Still Magical, but Not All Books Rose."

: Publishers sold 3.13 billion books last year, compared with 3.1 billion in 2006, an increase of just 0.9 percent, according to Book Industry Trends 2008, an annual report that analyzes sales in the United States. Higher retail prices helped net revenue increase 4.4 percent, to $37.3 billion, from $35.7 billion.

Public library circulation is Wisconsin is faring somewhat better. (The obvious caveat here is that these numbers include audiovisual materials, but then certain AV formats have already passed their prime. See here for an example. )
Statewide totals from "Wisconsin Public Library Service Data":
2007: not yet available online
2006: 59,630,650 (up 2.9%)
2005: 57,933,246 (up 2.0%)
2004: 56,790,841 (up 3.8%)

However, we can take a look at the LINK library consortium annual statistics:
2007: 11,262,790 (up 3.1%)
2006: 10,919,904 (up 5.6%)
2005: 10,337, 357 (up 4.6%)
2004: 9,881,610 (up 6.9%)

And as of April 30, 2008, LINK circ is up 3.6% compared to the same period in 2007.

So much for the circulation statistics.

I think there are two entwined questions that deserve some discussion.

In these current tough economic times, will libraries experience an increase in use? (In New York State, the answer already seems to be "yes". Link.)

If gas prices continue to increase and eat even more into household budgets, will libraries experience a decline in the number of visits? (And, for example, what impact might this have on our hold shelves?)

I suppose this post can all boil down to the question: How do we effectively promote the value of libraries?

Well, thanks to the great work of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation, we do have a Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries underway. Please take a careful look if you haven't already.

No matter what the equation, though, library advocacy starts with us.

What are you doing to make libraries essential?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Let's Make a Deal

Link to May 25 Fond du Lac Reporter article.
"FdL Library buying used bookmobile."

Appleton library plans

Link to May 25 Post-Crescent article.

"Appleton library plans set for unveiling."

Residents will find out this week whether expanding, relocating or building a branch to the Appleton Public Library are favored options to deal with several shortcomings in the downtown facility.

Link to May 29 Post-Crescent article.
"Consultant: Downtown best site for Appleton library."

One of two preferred plans calls for a 50,000-square-foot, two-story addition to the library's east wing, requiring relocation of the downtown bus transfer station and closure of N. Oneida Street north of Washington Avenue.

The other preferred plan eyes a new, 138,000-square-foot library somewhere in the central business district bordered by the Canadian National railroad tracks on the north, Lawrence Street on the south, the Fox River on the east and Richmond Street on the west.

The consultants will present a final recommendation to the library board June 30.

The Kind of Library Story I Love to Read

Link to "He found his passion by accident, but Racine library’s teen patrons benefit"
(From the Racine Journal Times)

Thanks to Jessica MacPhail, Racine Public Library Director, for sharing.

For more information, check out the Racine Public Library' s website.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Something in the Water at Blockbuster?

Link. "Your downloaded movie is just a drive away."

All you need to know: The plan, as outlined by The Hollywood Reporter, is for consumers to bring portable devices into Blockbuster stores and download movies, usually in about two minutes. Blockbuster expects to begin testing the kiosks, which were produced by airline-kiosk maker NCR, in about three weeks. Initially, the system will work only with Archos devices, but Blockbuster expects the kiosk to be an "open system" that is compatible with a range of devices. Keyes declined to predict how many titles will be available on the kiosk, noting that Blockbuster was still in negotiations with the major studios for content.

I wonder if the folks at Blockbuster have been hangin' out with Lenin.

What Would Mr. Ed Say?

Dan Farber's blogpost reporting on Walt Mossberg's interview with founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is here.

Quote: Bezos wouldn't disclose Kindle sales. "On a title-by-title basis, with 125,000 titles for Kindle, and you look at Amazon's physical sale of the same books, Kindle sales are more than 6 percent of the universe of 125,000 titles," he said. Amazon reduced the price of the $399 Kindle by 10 percent this week.

While Bezos said he was happy with the sales of the Kindle, the price cut and the heavy promotion of the device on Amazon's site could mean sales aren't spectacular. The Kindle could be a meaningful financial component in Amazon's business, Bezos said, but he didn't put a figure on the Kindle's contribution to annual revenue.

Regarding the fate of physical books, Bezos said the vast majority of books will be read electronically. Just as horses haven't gone away, books will be around, he quipped. "We see Kindle as an effort to improve the book, even though it hasn't changed in 500 years," he added.

Not a good day for books. First we learn that, in some situations, their interior ceases to be important, and now we're told they're somehow like horses.

The "Book Decor" Collection Development Plan

(Tip o' the hat to boingboing)

My favorite quote from the Home Decor sales pitch: Many people feel that it's silly to purchase books for pure decorative value. While we certainly understand this, we also savor the opportunity to change the mind of such individuals! Our books are so beautiful on the outside that their interior ceases to be important. [My emphasis.] What's more, they are available for purchase by the foot as well as the yard. In other words, no more spending hours in used bookstores looking for space fillers. At Book D├ęcor, this process takes a matter of seconds!

Pricing and ordering information found here. Select from a variety of styles, including Jewel Tone, Designer Mix, Zen Collection, and Less Than Perfect. (I wish I were making this up.)

One Way to Recycle, VHS-style

A publib post noted this option for recycling VHS tapes. (Disassembly required.)

Instructions are found here.

Milwaukee Public Library takes a look at self-service checkout

Link to 5/26/2008 Journal-Sentinel article.
"Express libraries, self service studied."

And while we're on the topic.
("Fairfax (VA) Public Library self-service checkout")

The Paperless Office, Chapter 626

Link to "The New Push to Get Rid of Paper" (Business Week)

Quote: Thirty-three years ago this month the phrase "paperless office" entered the business lexicon in a BusinessWeek article titled "The Office of the Future." In the article, George Pake, the legendary head of the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), foresaw technology that by 1995 would let computer users summon on-screen documents "by pressing a button," eliminating the need for much if not all the printed paper cluttering workspaces.

The Middleton Public Library's recent efforts to reduce paper include the following:

1. Staff utility webpages (sorry, password-protected; you'll have to take my word for it.)
*Vacation and sick leave is requested, calculated, and tracked online. Each staff member who earns benefits has a passworded personal account.
*Events calendar and evaluations
*Service desk calendars: who is assigned to work what shifts at circ, youth service, and reference.
*Schedule for library pages
*Timesheets for non-salaried staff
*Scheduling for meeting rooms, study room, and exhibit space
*Revenue tallies: fines, fees, Friends of the Library book & t-shirt sales, printer charges
*Library policies (also available on public webpages)
*Incident reports/reconsideration forms

2. Last September, Middleton eliminated mailing paper notices when items are two weeks overdue. (We encourage the use of email and remind people to use LINK's "My Account" function. We posted this policy change a month in advance. I like to think this helped to insure its easy implementation. I didn't hear a single voice of protest, though the circ staff assured me there were a few grumbles at first. But nobody felt irked enough to talk to the Director.)

3. One of the changes I haven't been able to implement, though not for lack of trying, is to convince the members of the library board to accept their monthly meeting packets (agenda, minutes, reports, vendors statement, etc.) via email attachments.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Gen Dems: The Party's Advantage Among Young Voters Widens

Link to Pew Research story.

Key quote: Trends in the opinions of America's youngest voters are often a barometer of shifting political winds. And that appears to be the case in 2008. The current generation of young voters, who came of age during the George W. Bush years, is leading the way in giving the Democrats a wide advantage in party identification, just as the previous generation of young people who grew up in the Reagan years -- Generation X -- fueled the Republican surge of the mid-1990's.

Speaking of Generation Y......(of which my 2 sons are members)

This year's South Central Library System annual meeting featured "tag-team" keynote speakers from Beloit College: Tom McBride, professor, and Ron Nief, director of public affairs. These two men are responsible for compiling the annual Beloit College "Mindset List." Each August since 2002, as faculty prepare for the academic year, Beloit College releases a list of items that provide a look at the cultural touchstones that have shaped the lives of their first-year students. Class of 2011 examples: They have never "rolled down" a car window. Half of them have been members of the Babysitters Club. Most phone calls have never been private.

McBride and Nief provided an insightful and amusing presentation, by the way -- and answered lots of questions from the audience. Recommended -- although I have no idea how much they charge.

Borders Web Site Now Live

Link to PW post.

Quote: The site contains many of the same features that the retailer had been beta testing for several months, including The Magic Shelf home page which allows browsers to scan 20 rows of books, face out, and click on any title to get more information on the book, few [sic] some text or to buy the title.

Anyone have the time to discover just how Magical this Shelf really is? Collection development news flash: I was pleased to learn the "Gone South" and "Boy's Life" by Robert McCammon will soon be available in trade paper editions. (But not, unfortunately, "Mine".)

Congratulations to Jaime Vache

Jaime Vache has been selected as the new director of the Stoughton Public Library . Her start date is June 30. Congratulation, Jaime.

And best wishes to retiring Director Pat Chevis, who beats me to the finish line by a couple of months.

Facebook heading for the open (source) road?

Link to post

Any Wisconsin libraries on Facebook? Didn't find any.

Middleton is one of a number of public libraries with a MySpace page.
Milton. Greenfield. Burlington. Two Rivers. Racine.

What's Your Vote Worth?

"In The Know: Are Politicians Failing Our Lobbyists?"

Link to Onion News network.

Monday, May 26, 2008

50th Anniversary of One of the Best Movies Ever

Link to New York Times assessment.

Quote from "50 Years of Dizzy, Courtesy of Hitchcock": You can’t help wondering what those first Bay Area viewers 50 years ago must have thought as they watched this strange, drifty, hallucinatory romance unfold on the big screen, with the strains of Bernard Herrmann’s lush score — brazenly echoing the “Liebestod” from Wagner’s “Tristan and Isolde” — swelling on the soundtrack. It wasn’t what they had come to expect from Hitchcock, the beloved portly “master of suspense,” who had been making impishly macabre thrillers for 30-some years and had since 1955 also been the host and impresario of a very popular mystery-story anthology series on television.

Well, we do know that the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences weren't particularly impressed at the time.

"Vertigo" was not among the nominees for Best Picture: "Auntie Mame", "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof", "The Defiant One", "Gigi", "Separate Tables". (The now unwatchable "Gigi" won the Oscar.)

Alfred Hitchcock was not among the nominees for Best Director (Weirdest choice: Mark Robson for "The Inn of the Sixth Happiness." Vincente Minnelli won for "Gigi", back in the day when bloated musicals and cast-of-thousands epics held sway.

Barbara Bel Geddes could have been nominated for Best Supporting Actress in place of the one-note screech of Peggy Cass in "Auntie Mame".

Robert Burks, director of photography who had been working with Hitchcock since 1951's "Strangers on a Train", wasn't nominated for Best Cinematography (Color). But there's that pesky "Auntie Mame" again.

And how could Bernard Herrmann not receive a nomination in the Best Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture category?

50 years later, though, "Vertigo" has more than received its due. It now ranks 9th on the American Film Institute's Top 100 films of all time -- the 10th anniversary edition.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Everyone should have some Lemon Jelly for breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Dick Martin: In Memoriam

L.A. Times obit.

Link. Love the NBC peacock opening. (All of a sudden, it's 1968 again.)


More memories found here, here, here, here, and here.

More agonizing over DVDs

Warner Tries a New Tactic to Revive Its DVD Sales (New York Times link)

The opening sentence sums it all up: Retail’s love affair with the DVD is on the rocks and Warner Brothers Entertainment would like to patch things up.

Sad Days in History for Shopaholics

What's it all about, Alfie? Launched in May 2006, Labelscar is the culmination of years of research for Jason Damas and Ross Schendel. Since the mid-1990s we have intently researched North American retail development, including retail industry trends, commercial architecture, and retail history. In the process, we’ve visited hundreds of shopping malls and thousands of shopping centers each, in nearly every state and even internationally. We’ve been to stunning, thriving, modern shopping malls and lifestyle centers and we’ve been to some of the most derelict “dead malls” in the country. Together we’ve visited more than two-thirds of the enclosed malls in the United States.

Want more?

Still not satisfied?

And for you Wausau-area folks.

Here is a particularly depressing view of what we see on the way to Two Rivers to visit JoAnna's folks. (Scroll down to second 2006 picture.)

Video games can make us creative if spark is right


Key quote: [S. Shyam] Sundar [of film, video and media studies at Penn State] and Elizabeth Hutton, a Penn State graduate student, are trying to understand the value of video games as a vehicle for sparking positive social traits, such as creativity. Fun and games aside, video games are viewed as a serious communication technology. Schools, corporations and even the government are increasingly employing it as a tool in enhancing learning and decision-making.

See also...

"The Role of Gaming in Libraries: Taking the Pulse"

Link to a portion of "The Shifted Librarian" discussion, related articles.

Link to a contrarian view.