Saturday, September 19, 2009

New Bookmobile for Lycoming County PA Purchased Locally

A political map showing the physical influence
of the Appalachian Mountains

Link to September 19 Williamsport Sun-Gazette article, "Bookmobile almost ready".

Excerpt: For the first time ever, The James V. Brown Library's Bookmobile is being manufactured locally with plans to hit the road by early December.

"This is a departure for us," said Stephanie Farr, county service manager for the library. "Traditionally, libraries would go through a major Bookmobile vendor for this kind of project, and (we) have done that in the past."

The purchase of the new vehicle comes after a five-year legal battle that ended last fall with Matthews Specialty Vehicles of Archdale, N.C., over the purchase of a $288,000 mechanically defective bookmobile in 2001.

The new bookmobile was purchased in August through Shirns Truck and Equipment on Lycoming Creek Road, and is now being what Farr called "Bookmobilized" at Spitler RV in Montoursville.

Defective bookmobile. The headache I inherited when hired as Head of Extension Services at the Oshkosh Public Library in 1978. (Re: Gerstenslager. Until a few minutes ago, I never knew about the Weinermobile connection.)

Questionable Spending Leads to Oversight Training Sessions In Lexington , KY

Lexington, Kentucky
"Horse Capital of the World"

Link to September 19 Lexington Herald-Leader article, "Public board members get oversight training".

Excerpt: They read the news stories this year about questionable spending at public organizations, and they saw the outrage that resulted. Now some of Lexington's public board members say they want to do a better job safeguarding the resources with which they're entrusted.

Last Tuesday, about 80 board members representing 17 institutions attended the first training session organized by Mayor Jim Newberry. The session followed a series of Herald-Leader articles about expenses at several agencies, including Blue Grass Airport and the Lexington Public Library.

Attendance by members of 17 community boards was encouraged by the mayor. Future appointees will be required to attend the training sessions.

Ominous: D.C. Faces Potential $666 Million Budget Gap Over 3 Years

Link to September 19 Washington Post article, "Feeling the Pinch, D.C. Libraries Cut Back".

Excerpt: The D.C. bookmobile will be parked, neighborhood libraries will close on Sundays and all city libraries will close on Monday holidays beginning Oct. 5 to help save $4.8 million, as the District tries to cope with its budget crunch.

The library cutbacks are one of a number of service reductions that District residents will feel when the 2010 fiscal year begins Oct. 1. As in most jurisdictions in the Washington region, the city's revenue is down because of the recession. So city leaders had to find ways to close a potential $666 million budget gap over three years, pushing the Fenty administration to cut spending plans for all departments and the council to raise sales and cigarette taxes.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Newspapers Play with Numbers

Link to September 18 techdirt post, "The Lies Newspapers Tell Themselves About Their Traffic".

We've already discussed how delusional it is to believe that 10 to 15% of online newspaper readers will suddenly convert to paying for online news content, but the numbers may be even worse than that. Jeff Sonderman points us to Alan Mutter discussing a report that suggests newspapers are vastly overcounting their online audiences:

In "nearly every market" included in a study of 118 newspapers of every size in every part of the country, Greg Harmon of Belden Interactive found that publishers on average report the number of unique visitors to their websites is 1.3 times larger than the population of their respective communities -- and fully 10 times greater than their print circulation.

Those numbers are not just moderately overstated. "They are magnificently incorrect," said Harmon.

St. Croix Librarians Request a More Equitable Level of Funding from County

Link to September 17 Hudson Star-Observer article, "St. Croix librarians lobby for more rural funding".

Excerpt: While property owners living in cities or villages with a library support the service through taxes they pay to their municipality, state law requires counties to levy a separate tax on rural property. That tax must cover at least 70 percent of the cost of rural circulation. In St. Croix County it currently covers 71 percent.

At the current tax rate, the owner of a $200,000 home in a rural area pays a library tax of $37 per year. If the county raised the tax to cover 100 percent of operating costs, the tax would be $52 a year.

“We’re not looking to make any money on this,” said New Richmond Alderman Jim Zajkowski. “We just want everybody to pay their fair share.”

New Richmond Library Director Scott Vrieze said residents of his city pay nearly 72 percent of the cost of operating the city’s public library, but use of the library is divided almost equally between city residents and non-city residents.

Other libraries in the county see similar patterns, said Vrieze.

Communities with public libraries in St. Croix County:
Deer Park
Glenwood City
New Richmond

Thursday, September 17, 2009

State Passes Budget, Philadelphia Libraries to Remain Open

Another library advocacy success story.

(Click on image to enlarge)

Wausau Daily Herald Could Have Asked a Librarian for Advice

Link to September 17 Editor & Publisher post, "'Wausau Daily Herald' ignites debate on anonymous posting".

Google this story
and you'll discover that the Wausau Daily Herald is on the receiving end of a well-deserved barrage of ridicule for its decision to reveal the identity of a reader who posted an anonymous comment about Dean Zuleger, administrator of Weston, a Wausau suburb. Zuleger was the controversial recipient of the paper's "Person of the Year" award. According to E&P's report, one reader suggested that Zuleger's "third chin should have been nominated".

Reminds me of a Joan Rivers' joke.

Here's the key quote: The paper has since apologized for turning over the address, and its corporate parent, Gannett Co., has clarified its policies on anonymous speech. The paper will now release information only if ordered by a court or if a comment contains a threat of imminent harm.

Sticks and stones..............

Doubleday, Amazon Coy About "The Lost Symbol" Ebook Sales

Link to AP article at Yahoo News, "Quick million for new Dan Brown book".

Excerpt: "The big surprise was that, despite sustained, strong physical books sales, yesterday (Tuesday) we saw the Kindle edition outsell hardcover editions on the book's release day," said spokesman Andrew Herdener, adding that the calculation did not include preorders.

Herz also declined to offer a breakdown between hardcover and e-book sales. Sony spokesman Kyle Austin also would not provide numbers, but said "The Lost Symbol" set a single day record for e-book sales, selling more than 10 times the amount of any other e-release Tuesday.

E-book sales are quickly growing, although believed to be just 1 percent to 2 percent of the overall market.

Book publishers follow book sales data as eagerly as movie producers track daily box office receipts. Why the reluctance to share?

Former Antigo Carnegie Library Gets a Facelift

From the collection of Larry Nix
Link to Wisconsin Library Heritage Center
9/2/2009 post, "Library Memoribilia Exhibit in Door County"

Link to September 12 Antigo Daily News article, "Carnegie library building gets a facelift".

The building is now home to the Langlade County Historical Society.

“Our museum is the grand dame of the community, and we all want to keep her looking her best,” [Society President Joe] Hermolin said. “And like any grand dame, that will take some money and some work.”

And if your library hasn't featured an exhibit of Larry's library memoribilia, book 'im!

Lake Geneva: Local Government on Hold?

Link to September 17 Janesville Gazette article, "Future cloudy for Lake Geneva government".

While it's budget season in municipalities across the state of Wisconsin, it's a time for bickering in Lake Geneva.

Excerpt: Lake Geneva doesn't have a functioning city council, and nobody is sure about the next step.

Dan Thompson, executive director of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, said Lake Geneva is in "relatively unusual" legal territory.

"There are all sorts of differences of opinion between mayors and council members… That's democracy. That part is not unusual," he said. "What we tend not to have as often is those differences of opinion being settled by a judge. But that appears to be where we are headed in this instance."
(This is obviously Mr. Thompson's public response. Wouldn't you like to know what he really thinks?)

For more on this story........
Link to September 16 Lake Geneva News article, "Lake Geneva: A City in Chaos?"

(I wish I knew all of the players so I could place the comments in context.)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Just in case you don't think the movie rental marketplace is changing

Link to September 15 AP story, "Blockbuster may close as many as 960 stores".

According to the article, that's a 20% "bricks-and-mortar" reduction.

But Blockbuster isn't sitting on its hands. It currently has 500 kiosks in operation and hopes to have 10,000 by the middle of next year. The company is obviously feeling the hot breath of Redbox breathing down its neck.

Backpacker Classics

NOT the backpacker edition

Link to September 12 Bookride post, courtesy of boingboing.

I have garnered this list from my own experience of buying books from travellers, various lists on the web (one at Amazon) and an enormous thread about which books people would leave on a bus. In no particular order here goes:

Jack Kerouac. On the Road
Peter Mathiessen. Snow Leopard (essential reading in the high deserts of Nepal)
Joseph Heller. Catch 22
Herman Hesse. Siddhartha (also Glass Bead Game, Magister Ludi, and Steppenwolf)
Yann Martel. Life of Pi
Pirsig- Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Lots more books listed.

Chippewa Falls Finance Committee Wrestles with Budget Deficit

Link to September 16 Eau Claire Leader Telegram article, "Chippewa Falls budget cuts awaited".

Excerpt: Add to the state's vehicle registration fee. Raise the hotel room tax. Create a fee on gaming machines in taverns. Sell some smaller, lesser-used community parks. Cut hours at the municipal pool. Reduce the hours that City Hall is open. Change police officer workdays to 12-hour shifts.

All of these ideas and more have been discussed at Chippewa Falls Finance Committee meetings over the past month as the City Council tries to figure out how to eliminate a projected 2010 deficit of $731,280.

Newspaper Columnist Muses on Libraries

The library lions at Oshkosh

to September 16 column by Oshkosh Northwestern Community Columnist G.A. Scheinoha, "Wisconsin libraries facing challenging issues".

Excerpt: You don't have to travel very far, especially right here in Wisconsin to stumble across library news. There's a lot of it and, as an evening news report put it, for good reason.

Seems during tough economic times, libraries see increased patronage. Much cheaper to borrow a video off their shelves than rent one at Blockbuster. Ditto for buying books vs. a no-cost option. Even computer usage rises, particularly with those out of work searching for jobs online.

Of course, it's ironic that as an increasing number of people are utilizing the library, funds to keep them open are drying up. At Fond du Lac, the facility was closed from Friday straight through the holiday on both Memorial and Labor Days to accommodate the county's budget shortfall.

Nekoosa Library Renovation

Link to pic in Wisconsin Rapids Tribune.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Rockford Public Library: "Library cuts coming"

Link to pdf file.

The City of Rockford anticipates a $3.5 million deficit by the end of the year. $7.5 million at the end of 2010. Ouch! (See "Rockford officials start layoff process".)

"You can never have too much library!"

The New York Public Library announces expanded hours.

Something to strive for: 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. (Click on schedule to enlarge.)

And the Psychic Reader is right next door!

"What beautiful eyeballs you have," said the Mad Man.

Google introduces Fast Flip.

Link to September 14 New York Times article, "Google Releases News-Reading Services"

("Google Site Lets Reader Flip Through the News" is the Sept. 15 print edition headline.)

Excerpt: “Browsing news on the Web is much slower than it is in print,” said Krishna Bharat, a distinguished researcher at Google who developed Google News in 2002. “When it is fast, people will look at more news and more ads, (RG emphasis) and that’s something that publishers want to see.”

I'm not sure what I think right now. I see it as another way to feed my insatiable appetite for news. Not necessarily a good thing.

Shouldn't I be on my bike right now?


Refashion Fair at Janesville's Hedberg Public Library

Link to September 14 Janesville Gazette article.

Excerpt: From 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 20, the Hedberg Public Library will host its first "Refashion Fair."

The program will consist of three elements: a "demo drive," "inspiration point" and "clothing swap circle."

The demo drive will feature demonstrations on how to "repurpose"—reuse and renew—old items, said Linda Belknap, library adult services associate

There will be fabric dying demonstrations, T-shirt embellishment ideas, no-sew bandana totes, fabric punching, basic jewelry and beading techniques and a variety of other crafty presentations.

"We're going to have demonstrations from quite a range of skill levels, from no-sew to highly artistic," Belknap said.

School Official Grows a Spine

Link to September 14 Capital Times article, "After short controversy, Oregon High School will perform musical 'Chicago'".

Excerpt: At least one person (in other words, one person; why else would it be phrased this way?) had called the superintendent with concerns about the artistic content of "Chicago." The show includes themes of adultery, murder and a corrupt justice system.

In response, the school administration shut down the show before rehearsals began.

"At first I was shocked," said Green, a junior. "I got out a notebook and started taking student emails and names from everyone I could. We got about 70 emails from students that day."

Oregon High Principal Chris Ligocki and Superintendent Brian Busler met with the drama advisors late Monday afternoon, following a weekend when Green and his friends collected 300 more signatures in support of the musical.

They eventually decided to restore the production, on the condition that the event will "educate people in the community," according to principal Ligocki.

Ligocki might want to start the education process with his superintendent.

"Let's talk about censorship."

Monday, September 14, 2009

Not so fast there, Headmaster Tracy

Remember him?

I suspect Harvard University library director Robert Darnton wouldn't approve.

Required reading
(Publication date: 10/27/2009)

New York Times: "Business Week" Ailing

Link to article.

Excerpt: Business magazines, including BusinessWeek and rivals like Forbes and Fortune, have been hit particularly hard, as automotive, financial services and technology advertisers have pulled back their marketing spending.

600 Studies on Cell Phone Safety and Counting

15-hour-per-day cell phone habit.

Link to September 13 cnet news post, "Are cell phones safe? Researchers still uncertain".

Excerpt: The question over whether cell phones pose a health risk has been debated for years, and researchers say the final answer could still be years away.

Since the wireless industry first began, there have been fears that cell phones could be harmful to your health. And even though some 600 studies have been conducted on the health effects of cell phone use, results have been conflicting.

Several reputable organizations, including the World Health Organization and the National Cancer Institute, say there's no conclusive evidence that using cell phones can harm your health. While other independent research indicates a link between health problems and cell phone use.

I don't have time to study the research, but I still can't help but wonder how "independent" some of the research is.

Wisconsin State Sales Tax Collection Falls

For the first time ever.

Link to September 14 Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article, "Sales tax revenue tumbles".

Excerpt: In the nearly five decades since Wisconsin began collecting a tax on retail purchases in 1962, sales tax receipts have never declined from one year to the next - until now.

Stung by the recession, consumers in Wisconsin have clamped down on spending, reducing the amount of sales tax collected by the state during the past year by 4.3%, to $4.1 billion.

The state's sales tax collections continued to increase during the recession of the early 1980s, in part because the state raised the rate to 5% in May 1982, near the end of the fiscal year.

Originally, the rate was set at 3% when taxes were first collected, then raised to 4% in 1969.

In 1982, when the state had been in a recession for two years, sales tax receipts increased by just 0.06%. A year later, with the increase in the rate, sales tax receipts jumped 25.8%.

State officials and some retail analysts expect to see an improvement in the 4th quarter of this year. Of course, the 4th quarter of last year is when we first found ourselves in this current mess.

And if you really want a depressing start to the week, add this article to the mix.

Waupun Library Shows Off 8,600 Square Foot Addition

Link to September 14 Beaver Dam Daily Citizen article, "Waupun Library adds 'Wow'".

Excerpt: More light, more room, more space for computers and an entrance that is wowing the public are four changes library patrons usually notice right away.

Waupun’s library has an 8,600-square-foot addition. Phase I, the new addition, was completed at the end of August on time and under budget. Phase II started this month and should be complete by the end of October. Phase II is in the southeast corner of the library and will provide a storage area, emergency exit, and more room for books. -

Though the cost of the library addition is estimated at $1.44 million, $500,000 of it will be paid by the library itself out of funds provided them annually by Dodge County. The library board has committed $25,000 a year for 20 years out of the funds to pay for the addition.

City of Portage Projecting a $300,000 Shortfall in 2010 Budget

Link to September 13 Portage Daily Register article, "Bleak budget time for Portage; fee increases, furloughs not out of the question".

Excerpt: Common Council member Fred Reckling said that the city department heads need to evaluate their budgets "dime by dime."

"I think we should go back to zero-based budgeting, which we did a number of years ago, and ask departments to analyze every expenditure as to whether it is valuable or not," Reckling said.

According to Plaster, the $300,000 shortfall is based on initial department requests and takes into account a 3 percent increase in the city levy - the highest percent increase allowed by state.

The levy limit on municipalities is imposed by the 2009-2011 state budget bill. It generally prevents a municipality from increasing its levy over the amount it levied the previous year by no more than 3 percent.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Mashable On Twitter's New Terms of Service

Link to September 13 post, "Ten People You Won't See on Twitter Anymore".

1. The Impersonator
2. The B0t
3. The Naked Chick
4. The Serial Abuser
5. The Squatter
6 The Slimy Salesman
7. The Hashtag Spammer
8. The Plagiarizer
9. The Uber Oversharer or Bully (RG wonders if this includes GregMitch, whose very frequent posts are usually informative?)
10. The Faker

In addition, you now own your own tweets, and Twitter can place ads next to your content.

Wisconsin State Journal Editorial on New Madison Central Library

Link to Wisconsin State Journal September 11 editorial, "Public needs to hear more about Downtown library".

Excerpt: Madison needs a new library Downtown.

But can the city afford it during such tight economic times?

Mayor Dave Cieslewicz is building a strong case for "yes." But he and other supporters need to answer more questions before the public should agree.