Friday, November 14, 2008

Book Sales Slide

According to Publishers Weekly report published today, September bookstore sales dropped 4.5%. For the year so far, though, sales are up 1.8%, due to a boost in business at college bookstores.

By way of comparison, circulation at the Middleton Public Library was up 13% for the month of September, 5% year-to-date.

It's not a scientific indicator, but it does seem to validate the idea that people use libraries more during hard economic times. The Natchez Democrat says so.

Waiting for the library to open in
Monterey Park ,CA

Net Neutrality Bill to be Introduced in January

Link to November 13 Yahoo Tech News post.

A senior U.S. lawmaker plans to introduce a bill in January that would bar Internet providers like AT&T Inc from blocking Web content, setting up a renewed battle over so-called network neutrality.

Sen. Byron Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat, believes a law is essential to prevent telephone and cable companies from discriminating against Internet content, even though regulators have taken actions to enforce free Web principles, a top Dorgan aide said on Thursday.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

For Readers of a Certain Age

One of my favorite books in grade school.

Link to Nostalgia for the Scholastic Book Club on Flickr.

Appleton library planning escapes budget cuts

Terry Dawson is probably breathing a little easier today.

Link to November 13 Appleton Post Crescent article.

Funding to help determine if the city needs a new or expanded library received Common Council approval following a 5½-hour meeting that began Wednesday and ended today.

As the clock hand passed 12:30 this morning, aldermen voted 10-6 to approve a $150 million operating budget for 2009.

The vote included rejection of a resolution seeking to remove $75,000 from the Appleton Public Library’s budget. The money is intended to hire a consultant to determine specific space needs for a planned library renovation or replacement project.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

2009 Wisconsin Legislative Leadership

Senate Democrats
Russ Decker, Majority Leader.
Dave Hansen, Assistant Majority Leader.
Fred Risser, President.
Pat Kreitlow, President Pro Tempore.
John Lehman, Caucus Chair.
Kathleen Vinehout, Caucus Vice Chair.

Senate Republicans
Scott Fitzgerald, Minority Leader.
Glenn Grothman, Assistant Minority Leader.
Joseph Leibham, Caucus Chair.
Sheila Harsdorf, Caucus Vice Chair.

Assembly Democrats
Mike Sheridan, Speaker.
Tony Staskunas, Speaker Pro Tem.
Tom Nelson, Majority Leader.
Donna Seidel, Assistant Majority Leader.
Peter Barca, Caucus Chair.
Barbara Toles, Caucus Vice Chair.

Assembly Republicans
Jeff Fitzgerald, Minority Leader.
Mark Gottlieb, Assistant Minority Leader.
Scott Suder, Caucus Chair.
Joel Kleefisch, Caucus Vice Chair.

Colored-Coded Budget Protest in Milwaukee

Link to November 12 JSOnline article, "Crowds protest budget plan: Milwaukee librarians, firefighters urge city not to cut deeper".

Every one of the 350 seats in the Common Council chamber galleries was taken, while other residents stood in the back of the room and packed the hallways outside, as the council and Mayor Tom Barrett held a public hearing on the 2009 city budget.

The crowd was color-coded by cause: firefighters in red T-shirts labeled “No more cuts” on their backs; library backers, mostly in black, waving signs that said, “Save library services”; and members of the Common Ground faith-based coalition, wearing brown T-shirts and pressing for expanding summer youth jobs. So many showed up that they filled the galleries in shifts. As the Common Ground members filed out, firefighters and their families streamed in.

A Depressing Assessment of U.S. Literacy

Link to November 10 truthdig ("drilling beneath the headlines") post, "America the Illiterate".

There are over 42 million American adults, 20 percent of whom hold high school diplomas, who cannot read, as well as the 50 million who read at a fourth- or fifth-grade level. Nearly a third of the nation’s population is illiterate or barely literate. And their numbers are growing by an estimated 2 million a year. But even those who are supposedly literate retreat in huge numbers into this image-based existence. A third of high school graduates, along with 42 percent of college graduates, never read a book after they finish school. Eighty percent of the families in the United States last year did not buy a book.

Google as an Early Warning System

More evidence as to where people go first for information.

Link to November 12 New York Times article, "Google Uses Searches to Track Flu’s Spread" (Print headline and sub-headline: "Aches, a Sneeze, a Google Search. Data on web may warn of outbreaks of flu.")

There is a new common symptom of the flu, in addition to the usual aches, coughs, fevers and sore throats. Turns out a lot of ailing Americans enter phrases like "flu symptoms” into Google and other search engines before they call their doctors. That simple act, multiplied across millions of keyboards in homes around the country, has given rise to a new early warning system for fast-spreading flu outbreaks, called Google Flu Trends.

Perhaps libraries should consider promoting easy access to flu information on their home pages particularly local information, such as where to get a flu shot. (Retiring Guy will be receiving his on Friday at the Middleton Senior Center.)

The following websites aren't necessarily recommendations. They ended up at the top of the list for a "flu symptoms" search. The top, non-sponsored link -- and likely to be the one that people click on first. No clear "About Us" statement, but a link at the bottom of each webpage indicates the information is provided by the pharmaceutical giant Hoffmann-La Roche Inc. One feature, "Track the Flu in Your Area", allows you to type in your zip code. The results are for Milwaukee -- low severity -- which may or may not be applicable to the Madison area. And there's no mention of how current this information is. No ads (discounting the "Roche" name).

Center for Disease Control. Next link on my hit list. As a result of using "symptoms" as one of the search terms, you need to back up to the "seasonal flu" webpage to obtain information on flu activity in the U.S. You then have to scroll down past 1 table and 3 graphs to find a U.S. map. The CDC's "Weekly Influenza Activity Estimates" (for the week ending November 1) indicate "no activity" in Wisconsin. No ads.

WebMD. According to Wikipedia, WebMD is the leading health portal in the U.S. The "flu guide" page page provides a better overview of the topic. You'll find ads here, and beware of a survey pop-up. Didn't find a flu activity map, though I didn't strain myself looking for one. I did stumble upon this article announcing that Wisconsin's first flu case of the season has been confirmed -- as of Monday, Nov. 10, in Kenosha.

When I tried the search terms "flu guide", following up on WebMD's terminology, (Roche Pharmaceuticals) ended up as the sponsored hit. And guess where this link took me? To the "flu treatment and prevention" page, which featured this illustration. (Based on the search results, "flu guide" is a poor choice of words.)

Not-so-subtle message: Drugs are the answer -- preferably ours.

Mayo Clinic. Though not #4 on my hit list, the Mayo Clinic did end up on the first page. (My "Top 40 Reference Countdown", a relic from the days when print reference collections were actually growing, featured the Mayo Clinic Family Health Book. Full disclosure: I always had a soft spot in my collection development heart for Mayo titles.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Good News from Milton

Link to November 11 Janesville Gazette article, "Milton residents face complicated '09 budget".

The city has worked hard at cutting expenses in the last few years, and there was little left to cut in 2009, Schmidt said. The city council prioritized maintaining service and staff levels, he said.

In fact, the proposed budget adds staff time to the library and police department. The police department will function with 10 full-time officers for the first time, and the library hopes to add 30 hours a week for a library assistant to deal with increased use.

It sounds as though the proverbial fat lady has yet to sing. Keep your fingers crossed for the Milton Public Library.

Appleton Post-Crescent Endorses Library Design Study

Pic from Appleton Public Library Facebook page

Link to November 11 editorial.

The editorial board makes it clear that the design study is as far as its support goes, for now.

(Unfortunately, the 4 comments, as of 11:03 a.m. are the usual rants.)

If You're Not Reading Mudflats.... should be.

The latest post, a clear-eyed assessment of "Palin on Banning Books", is worth your time.