Saturday, October 11, 2008

Milwaukee: Aldermen, library board president clash over closures

Tippecanoe Branch of the Milwaukee Public Library

Link to October 10 Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article.


At a budget hearing before the council’s Finance & Personnel Committee, Ald. Terry Witkowski repeatedly pressed City Librarian Paula Kiely and Library Board President David Riemer to name the libraries on the chopping block.

Witkowski’s far south side constituents are rallying to save Tippecanoe Library. Barrett has said he has received more e-mails, phone calls and letters about that library than any other.

Kiely said the only neighborhood libraries she wouldn’t consider closing are the two newest, Washington Park and Bay View libraries, and the Center Street Library, which is funded by a federal community development block grant. Beyond that, she said, the decision would be based on a combination of neighborhood needs, library usage, building condition and proximity to other libraries.

But it would be up to the Library Board to decide how to weigh those factors, said Riemer, a former city budget director. He said state law gives his board sole power to close libraries or change hours, and even if the council votes to slash funding enough to shut down two libraries, the board could still choose to keep all libraries open with greatly reduced hours.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Journal-Sentinel Supports Mixed-Use Villard Library Project

Current facility at 3310 W. Villard Ave.

Link to October 10 Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel editorial.

A new, energy-efficient building with a library on the first floor and affordable "grandfamily housing" by Gorman above it could save the city about 15% each year in operating costs for the library, according to budget director Mark Nicolini. Construction costs would be shared.

The project serves multiple objectives: increasing affordable housing options, contributing to neighborhood revitalization, reducing operating costs, providing a safe haven for kids and making the library more efficient via automation while keeping core services.

The library was on the chopping block in 2003, and residents fought to keep it open. This time, efforts involve an even broader collaboration.

The Colbert Report Visits the Library

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Collection Development Suggestion: Americana

Link to October 9 New York Times article, "Farm Boy's Photos Tell Long-Ago Stories of an Iowa Town.

As a teenager in the late 1930s, Everett W. Kuntz, the farm boy everybody called Scoop because he always seemed to have a camera slung around his neck, walked around his hometown snapping pictures of everyday life. He did not have the money to have the shots printed, and eventually, as he went off to college and later settled in Minneapolis, he forgot he even had them. Some 60 years later, as he lay dying of cancer, he remembered.

The University of Iowa Press has just published the pictures in a slim volume, “Sunday Afternoon on the Porch: Reflections of a Small Town in Iowa, 1939-1942.”

Ridgeway, like a lot of little farm towns in the isolated corners of America, looks a bit more faded today than it was in the old pictures, which seemed to capture some confident smiles and jaunty steps, men in fedoras and women in bonnets.

It was a town of about 300 people in those days, and it has not grown a bit. Ridgeway High School has been closed since the 1950s. The Bank of Winneshiek County is shuttered, its windows covered with plywood.

Still Have This Book in Your Collection?

If so, and you can't bear to part with it, at least recatalog it. 817, perhaps?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Feast Your Eyes on This

It's the personal library of Priceline founder Jay Walker.

Details here.

I Must Be Dreaming

I recently read the following statement in the newspaper.

The mayor, however, assured the library board Thursday night all libraries would remain open, there would be no cuts to hours, and the books and materials budget for the coming year would remain the same as in the 2008 budget.

Click here for details.

Collection Development Selection (for map lovers)

The book is titled An Atlas of the Real World. According to amazon, it has an 10/27/2008 publication date.

Here's an example.
Forest Depletion: The size of each territory indicates the annual rate of depletion of forests, measured in terms of US dollar value at current prices.

Excerpt: Put together by the people behind, a new reference book features 366 digitally modified maps (known as cartograms) that depict the world demographically. The maps cover a wide range of different topics, from population, health and productivity to poverty, warfare and crime.

Link to July 10, 2008, Creative View blog post for additional examples.

Collection Development/Program/Exhibit Suggestions

Jim Draeger and Mark Speltz gave a breezy, informative, and-well-received presentation at yesterday's "History Sandwiched In" brown bag lunch series at the Wisconsin Historical Society Museum.

From the WHS website: The companion volume to the Wisconsin Public Television documentary of the same name, Fill 'er Up visits sixty Wisconsin gas stations that are still standing today and chronicles the history of these humble yet ubiquitous buildings. The book tells the larger story of the gas station's place in automobile culture and its evolution in tandem with American history, as well as the stories of the individuals influenced by the gas stations in their lives.

Credit for the beautiful color photography goes to Mark Fay, who traveled more than 5000 miles to capture the 60 buildings in their current state. Fay is currently exhibiting his work, including some of the gas station photos, at the L. E. Phillips Memorial Library in Eau Claire through October 14.

The cover photo showcases a beautifully restored 1931 Texaco gas station, now a body shop, in Independence, Wisconsin. The gas pumps are purely decorative, a birthday gift from the building owner's wife, according to Draeger.

You might also want to read Jim and Mark's blog, Fuelish Thoughts.

A listing of Fill'er Up events is found here.

The September 29 "Conversations with Larry Meiller" (link to audio) features Jim Draeger and Mark Speltz.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Don't Read This Post If You Are Easily Upset

Link to October 7 New York Times article, "Financial Crisis Takes a Toll on Already-Squeezed Cities".

After the layoff of 160 full-time and part-time city workers, the slashing of recreation programs and a call for volunteers to shelve books at the branch libraries (open two days a week now instead of six), the people of Duluth, Minn., thought they had seen the worst of a bad year for the municipal budget.

Phoenix: “We try to cut programs and services that impact the public the least,” said Toni Maccarone, a spokeswoman for the City of Phoenix. “Unfortunately, this time around, there’s going to be direct service cuts. That’s what makes it so hard. It’s police and fire, and parks and senior services, libraries.”

General picture:
In a survey of more than 300 municipalities released last month, the National League of Cities reported that four out of five finance officers said their cities would be less able to meet needs in 2009 than this year. The group called the findings troubling, with no sign of getting better.

“This is the first time for at least two decades that all three major general tax sources — property, income and sales — have all declined at the same time,” said Michael A. Pagano, a co-author of the report and dean of the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois, Chicago. “That’s the real frightening thing for cities.”

A Different Kind of Language Lesson

Link to October 7 New York Times article, "In ‘Sweetie’ and ‘Dear,’ a Hurt for the Elderly" and related article, "The Little Things That Rankle".

Professionals call it elderspeak, the sweetly belittling form of address that has always rankled older people: the doctor who talks to their child rather than to them about their health; the store clerk who assumes that an older person does not know how to work a computer, or needs to be addressed slowly or in a loud voice. Then there are those who address any elderly person as “dear.”

“People think they’re being nice,” said Elvira Nagle, 83, of Dublin, Calif., “but when I hear it, it raises my hackles.”

Curriculum's Comeback Kid

Link to October 7 New York Times article, "A Dead Language That's Very Much Alive".

The resurgence of a language once rejected as outdated and irrelevant is reflected across the country as Latin is embraced by a new generation of students like Xavier who seek to increase SAT scores or stand out from their friends, or simply harbor a fascination for the ancient language after reading Harry Potter's Latin-based chanting spells.

Monday, October 6, 2008

(Gasp!) Reading without Gaming?

Link to October 6 Wisconsin State Journal article.
"DeForest helps students experience joy of reading." (print headline)
"DeForest's Summer Reading looks to build bookworms." (online headline)

In an age of exploding technology, DeForest High School is doing its part to emphasize the joy of reading a book.

To that end, the school literacy committee started a new program called Summer Reading. Students who planned to attend the high school in the fall chose a book from a list to read over the summer. The students then participated in a recent book discussion led by high school staff, administrators and School Board members.

"A lot of people don't know what a good book is, so it helps," said Kristen Williams, a junior. "You get to hear about authors you've never heard about before."

Williams read "Dairy Queen," a book about a 15-year-old girl who must work on her Wisconsin dairy farm after her father is injured and discovers she wants to play on her high school football team.

The reading program was set up to start building a school-wide culture of literacy and a community of readers.

BBC Radio 2-Part Documentary on "The Right to Know"


Part one: If knowledge is power, then the right to know is a crucial part of the balance between citizen and state. More and more countries are introducing freedom of information laws, which give citizens the right to see government-held information. (More theory than practice?)

Part two: Since 1766, Sweden has had Freedom of information enshrined in law. All information held by government can be requested and viewed by any Swedish citizen.

Baiting the Hook (and Deconstructing the News)

Link to front-page, October 6 New York Times article, "Using Video Games as Bait to Hook Readers".

Perhaps the most instructive aspect of this article is the gender imbalance of the quotations.

The Men (and Boys)
PJ Haarsman, former advertising consultant and author of The Softwire, a science fiction novel for "preteenagers". You can't just make a book anymore. Pairing a video game with a novel for young readers brings the book into their world, as opposed to the other way around.

Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson and the Olympian novels. I think games and readers are looking for the same thing. They are looking to be dropped into an intriguing story and to become a character in the story.

Jacob Begley, senior at Brown University and self-confessed former World of War addict. Video games certainly don't have the same degree of emotional and intellectual complexity of a book.

Jay Parini, writer who teachers at Middlebury College. I wouldn't be surprised if, in 10 or 20 years, video games are creating fictional universes every bit as complex as the world of fiction of Dickens or Dostoevsky.

Quinn Clark, 12, identified as a "bean-pole thin" video game player from the San Diego suburb of Vista. Drawn to Haarsma's book because of its similarities to some of his favorite games. I felt like I was in "Call of Duty 4".

Jack Martin, assistant director for young adult programs at the New York Public Library. I think we have to ask ourselves, 'What exactly is reading?' Reading is no longer just in the traditional sense of reading words in English or another language on a paper."

Derek Hibbs, 18, a regular tournament player at the Ann Arbor Public Library. Says reading is too solitary. You can't say: I charge you to a reading duel. Go!"

James Paul Gee, author of "What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy". Games are teaching critical thinking skills and a sense of yourself as an agent having to make choices and live with those choices. You can't screw up a Dostoevsky book, but you can screw up a game."

[Retiring Guy's note. What's with the Dostoevsky reference? Some type of code?]

Mark S. Seidenburg, professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I actually think reading is pretty great and can compete with video games easily. So rather than say, 'Oh, books are irrelevant in the modern era because there are all these other media available', I would ask shouldn't we be doing a better job of teaching kids how to read?
[You'll find this quote near the end of a rather lengthy article.]

William Tropp, father of Noah, 14, who is participating in a research project focusing on teenage boys who play "World of Warcraft". Dad's reaction to Noah's participation in a group Internet forum. I was so surprised because he does not like writing. I said, 'Why aren't you like this in school?

The Girl and Woman
Holly McLaughlin, 18, a senior at Kimball Union Academy, a boarding school in Meriden, New Hampshire, who played "Civilization" in her sophomore social studies class. Rather than just reading about it, you would understand everything about it, because you had built a network of roads yourself.

Constance Steinkuehler, assistant professor in the School of Education at UW-Madison. Says that the reading gamers do in instructional manuals might serve as a gateway drug for literacy.
[Retiring Guy's note: I'm sure lots of parents will love this analogy.]

Not to put too snarky a spin on it, but the arc of this story development makes me think of skateboarding.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Banned Books Week News Article

Link to October 5 Racine Journal Times online post,"Banning books hasn't been a goal around here".

Racine and Burlington library patrons haven’t been asking to remove books from the shelves lately.

The Racine Public Library has not had requests for books to be banned in the last couple of years, said Racine Public Library Director Jessica MacPhail.

“We do take seriously anybody’s concern over library materials,” she said. “Over the last few years there haven’t been any. We get many more requests for ‘Could you purchase ...’ ”

The Burlington Public Library also has not had any requests for reconsideration of a book or other material in quite a while, said Burlington Public Library director Gayle Falk. She believes it’s a matter of change in the way the community looks at issues.

It’s MacPhail’s opinion that the lack of requests for book removals is because the community is more educated than it used to be and more open to different viewpoints.

“They are very supportive and open-minded,” she said.

10 most challenged books of 2007.