Saturday, October 3, 2009

In Praise of School Librarians

Link to September 30 Cleveland Plain Dealer column by Connie Schultz, "School librarians won't let censors throw the book at them".

Excerpt: "They're definitely emboldened by what happened with [Barack] Obama's speech," she said, referring to the president's televised address to students earlier this month. His speech was banned in many classrooms across the country after school districts buckled like brittle knees to conservatives who objected even before knowing its content.

Obama's speech was later widely praised as positive and inspiring, even by many conservative leaders. But the damage was done, Hopkins said.

"These are scary times for librarians and teachers. All it takes now is for one parent to object. If we let them win, they're just going to keep doing it."

Not in Karin Perry's patch of America, they aren't.

Mrs. Perry couldn't speak to me without permission from her superintendent, who never returned my call. Not to worry. Sometimes it's true that actions speak louder than words. Let me tell you what she did.

Mrs. Perry asked Hopkins if she would still come. The answer was yes. Then she asked Hillsdale Free Will Baptist College -- love the name -- if she could move Hopkins' talk to their campus. The college said yes.

About 150 students, parents, teachers and librarians attended last week's speech. So far, there are no reports of fainting or even frantic fanning of faces. But as we all know, it only takes one person to declare otherwise before you're smack dab in the middle of a dust storm over the First Amendment.

If that wind kicks up dirt on your corner, may there be a Karin Perry at a library near you.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Des Moines Public Library Raffle: Win a Trip to D.C.

(Sorry, drawing took place last night, but what a great idea!)

Link to September 28 Des Moines Register article.

Excerpt: One lucky buyer of a $100 raffle ticket to raise funds for the Des Moines Public Library will win a trip for two to Washington, D.C.

Parts of the trip have been coordinated by longtime library advocate and former Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack, who moved to Washington when her husband Tom became the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. So the itinerary includes several "insider" bonuses, including a private tour of the White House's West Wing and the State Department's rarely toured diplomatic reception rooms. The prize also includes airfare, two nights at the Marriott Hotel, tickets to the Newseum and tours of the Capitol and Library of Congress.

Bedbugs Infest the Classics at Denver Public Library

to September 22 Denver Post column by Susan Greene, "Don't let the bedbugs bite".

Excerpt: That customer is Roger Goffeney, 69, who happens to have made it his life's mission to preserve books. He's a zealous participant in the Gutenberg Project, a worldwide effort to archive printed books online.

Goffeney borrows tomes of classic literature from the library — as well as from libraries at universities and in other counties using Denver's system as an intermediary. Then he "reviews" the books — not actually reading them but comparing hard copies to online versions to ensure that his fellow Gutenberg volunteers have scanned them completely.

The retired poet and minister lives at Cathedral Plaza, a downtown apartment complex owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Denver. He says the building is infested.

"They skip, hop and jump," he says of insects that swarmed the borrowed books he stacks on the floor next to his bed.

Dewey v. BISAC


Link to October 1 Library Journal article,"The Dewey Dilemma".

Excerpt: Not long ago, a mother blogged about her visit to a newly opened public library in Darien, CT. Though she appreciated its soaring ceilings, the fireplaces and cozy nooks, the presence of a cafĂ©, and state-of-the-art technology, what really excited her was the way the books were organized. “The books everywhere, but especially in the children's room, have been shelved, labeled, and organized in a way that makes me feel less like a moron and more empowered to find what I'm looking for on my own.” She went on to say, “the Library, which in my mind used to be a little intimidating and kind of like a disapproving Mother, is reaching out to ME. 'Library' is saying to ME that she wants to be like ME and doesn't expect me to be like her anymore.”

Oak Brook (IL) Public Library Update: The Sound of an Axe Grinding

Link to October 1 Daily Herald post, "Ugly battle has librarians in Oak Brook turning to Teamsters".

Excerpt: Xinos, who unsuccessfully sued to stop the building of the new library, which opened in 2002, sits on one side of the issue. He lost his election bid to be a village board member, but has been president of his home association since 1983 and worked to elect board members who agree with him about the library.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Is It Reading or Is It Degradation?

Link to September 30 New York Times article, "Curling Up With Hybrid Books, Videos Included".

Excerpt: For more than 500 years the book has been a remarkably stable entity: a coherent string of connected words, printed on paper and bound between covers.

But in the age of the iPhone, Kindle and YouTube, the notion of the book is becoming increasingly elastic as publishers mash together text, video and Web features in a scramble to keep readers interested in an archaic form of entertainment.

On Thursday, for instance, Simon & Schuster, the publisher of Ernest Hemingway and Stephen King, is working with a multimedia partner to release four “vooks,” which intersperse videos throughout electronic text that can be read — and viewed — online or on an iPhone or iPod Touch.

Some publishers say this kind of multimedia hybrid is necessary to lure modern readers who crave something different. But reading experts question whether fiddling with the parameters of books ultimately degrades the act of reading.

Let's see. Videos interspersed with text. Reading and then watching a video for context or amplification. Gee, sounds like the way I use the Internet. Does this somehow degrade me?

People, some of you haven't read this article yet. And you've had 12 years, for criminy sakes.

What-will-they-think-of-next Dept.

Link to September 30 post, "Anti-Wi-Fi paint keeps your wireless signal to yourself".

Excerpt: The idea is simple: Use a special paint on walls where you don't want wireless to pass through (say the exterior of your house). The secret is mixing aluminum-iron oxide particles in with the paint. The metal particles resonate at the same frequency as Wi-Fi and other radio waves, so signals can't pass through the thin layer of pigment. Outsiders would simply be unable to access your wireless network, just as you, inside the house, won't be able to interlope on anything beamed on the outside.

Community Library Board of Trustees: Riding Roughshod?

Link to September 29 West of the I post, "Close out as Community Library director".

Posted comment: The forcing out of Ms. Close is truly what both the Randall Town Board and the Twin Lakes Village Board wanted all along. They have stacked the Library Board against Ms. Close now for the past couple of years. If you look closely at the appointments from these two communities you will see that none of the individuals had any real interest in making the library better. They had personal agendas designed to make this happen. If either board, (Randall or Twin Lakes) and their designated appointees had the interest of the library at heart we would have had a new library by now. Look beyond what just transpired, and you will find a lot of personal agendas, and no one looking out for the good of the library or the community.

Trying to keep the officials of five municipalities happy: not an enviable challenge.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Great Falls, Montana: Refund the Library Campaign

DPI news release: Economic recovery efforts gets boost at Fond du Lac Public Library

Click to enlarge.

Banned Books Week Screed: Here are the facts, Mr. Muncy

Link to September 25 Wall Street Journal op-ed piece, "Finding censorship where there is none".

Excerpt: 'To you zealots and bigots and false patriots who live in fear of discourse. You screamers and banners and burners. . . ." These are the opening lines of the official Manifesto of Banned Books Week, which starts tomorrow. This annual "national celebration of the freedom to read" is led by the American Library Association (ALA) and co-sponsored by a number of professional associations and advocacy groups. Events and displays at "hundreds" of libraries and bookstores will "draw attention to the problem of censorship" in the U.S.

As the tone of the Manifesto suggests, the sponsors are more interested in confrontation than celebration.

[Mitchell Mundy is the chief operating officer of the Institute for American Values , "a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that contributes intellectually to strengthening families and civil society in the U.S. and the world."]

The Manifesto which so perturbs Mr. Mundy was written by author Ellen Hopkins. On September 17th, she explained on her blog how it came about.

Banned Books Week is coming soon. If you haven't already heard, Simon & Schuster asked me to write a poem [RG's emphasis],which they produced as a broadside. It's called Manifesto, and while I won't put the whole thing here, I will quote the last stanza when I wrap this up. The broadside will be on Banned Books Week tables across the country. I'll be taking a fistful to OK when I go Tuesday because Karin Perry cared enough about my message to make sure I'll appear Tuesday, 7:30 p.m., at Hillsdale Baptist College in Moore OK. I hope that room is full, because I will have lots to say. There and everywhere I go from here on out. Blanket censorship has no place in this country.

Here's what ALA has to say about its 2009 Banned Books Week event.

Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information [RG's emphasis]while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.

Intellectual freedom—the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular—provides the foundation for Banned Books Week. BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.

Waukesha County: "Weathering the storm better than most"

Waukesha County Board Districts

Link to September 29 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article, "Waukesha County budget avoids major cuts".

Excerpt: Waukesha County Executive Dan Vrakas announced his proposed 2010 budget Tuesday night - one that generally maintains services, anticipates about 2% pay increases for its 1,400 county employees, and fills substantial holes created by state budget cuts and lower income from economy-driven local sources such as real estate transaction fees and investment income.

Vrakas said the county - the only one in Wisconsin and one of 50 counties in the nation with a coveted AAA bond rating - entered the recession from "an extremely strong position" financially. In addition, he and his administration have crafted a budget that increases spending for operations and capital projects by 1.5%, to $260 million.

Among the spending decisions, the budget eliminates 15 jobs across many departments, for a $1 million saving. It leverages resources by merging some operations, like those for veterans, the aging and those with disabilities. It imposes two unpaid furlough days on most employees, saving about $425,000.

"I don't think people will see visible reductions in services," Vrakas said.

The proposed property tax levy, excluding the federated library tax paid by those communities without their own libraries, would increase 2.8%, to $95.7 million. The proposed tax rate would increase 8 cents, from $1.79 per $1,000 of equalized (fair market) value, to $1.87, or 4.5%.

Library Board's "Positive Direction" Takes an Immediate Detour

(Located in Kenosha County, Community Library is governed by the following five municipalities: Paddock Lake, Randall, Salem, Silver Lake, and Twin Lakes.)

Link to September 29 Kenosha News article, "Community Library board demotes director".

Excerpt: The only director the Community Library System has ever known was demoted Monday by the Library Board.

Mary Ellen Close, director since the district was formed nearly 26 years ago, who was instrumental in its creation, was reassigned to the circulation desk with no cut in pay or benefits.

It’s just time for a change,” Library Board member Ken Mangold said Tuesday, adding he could not comment on what was discussed in closed session. “We’re moving forward in a positive direction.”

Mangold made the motion to demote Close after Library Board members Dale Baughman, who represents Paddock Lake, and Lois Sokolski, who represents Silver Lake, resigned and left the meeting in disgust.

“I felt what they were doing was wrong,” Sokolski said Tuesday. “I do not want to be associated with people who would do something like that to her (Close).”

Sokolski said Close has worked tirelessly over the years and said the board was “acting like a kangaroo court.”

“It got to the point I just couldn’t listen to it anymore,” Sokolski said. “I resigned.”

The board voted 6-2 in favor of the motion to reassign Close. Joining Mangold in favoring the reassignment were Patrick O’Connell, who represents Salem; Irene Swan, who represents Randall; Crysti Neumann, who represents the Central High School District; and Twin Lakes representatives Sharon Bower and Michael Mahoney.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Michigan Legislative Committee Votes to Reduce State Aid to Public Libraries by 40%

Link to September 28 Grand Rapids News post, "Proposed 40 percent budget cut to Michigan libraries may hurt interlibrary loan system".

Excerpt: Lawmakers are trying to erase a $2.8 billion shortfall by the end of Wednesday to prevent a partial shutdown of state government.

The library cuts are just one of the items on the table.

"This is a big loss for a lot of people," said Sandra Wilson, director of the Lakeland Library Cooperative. It covers 41 West Michigan library systems and allows for patrons from any library to check out resources and return them in any of the member libraries.

The group, which delivered about three million items last year, would lose more than $150,000 of its $1.9 million budget if the proposed cut goes through.

Saturday To-Do List: Attend Monona Pie Party

Come to the Monona Community Center at 1011 Nichols Road in Monona, Wisconsin between 1:00 and 5:00 on Saturday, October 3rd. Be prepared for an astounding sight of 125 home-made dinner and dessert pies that you may sample as you search for the perfect pie that you would like bid on.

All the details here.

Waukesha's Big Read Features "A Farewell to Arms"

Link to September 28 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article, "Waukesha to launch Big Read with collection for troops".

Excerpt: The Big Read is a citywide initiative spearheaded by the Waukesha Public Library through the National Endowment for the Arts aimed at encouraging the love of books. Events, including book discussions, film and theater events, run through Nov. 15.

City of Waukesha 2010 Budget Attempts to Minimize Service Cuts with Pay Freeze

Link to September 28 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article, "Waukesha seeks employee pay freeze".

Excerpt: Waukesha's proposed 2010 budget would avoid significant service cuts and employee layoffs, provided the city's labor unions agree to new contracts with a one-year pay freeze.

The budget plan, which City Administrator Lori Curtis Luther will present to the Finance Committee at 7 p.m. Tuesday, assumes pay freezes for all other employees, whether elected, appointed or nonunion, as well. It would also continue the hiring freeze on civilian jobs already in place this year and keep about 16 jobs vacant.

About two-thirds of the city's 550 employees are unionized. If the freeze doesn't fly, Luther said, layoffs would be considered.

2008 American Community Survey Pegs Milwaukee's Poverty Rate at 23.4%

Link to September 28 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article, "City is 11th poorest in nation".

Excerpt: The city's poverty rate for children 18 years and younger was 31.9%.

The latest census estimates from the 2008 American Community Survey show that the poverty rate in the city has dropped since its peak in 2006, from 26.2% to 23.4%. And the raw numbers show the number of people living below the poverty threshold in Milwaukee has decreased from 142,944 to 132,189 the past three years.

During that time, the number of children living in poverty dropped more drastically from 59,131 to 49,952, or from 38.5% to 31.9%.

Census Bureau Snapshot of Eau Claire County

Link to Eau Claire Leader-Telegram article, "Census defines Eau Claire County".

Excerpt: A recent U.S. Census Bureau report reaffirmed some assumptions about living in Eau Claire County.

- Median wages here lag behind state and national averages at all levels, but on average our homes cost less and thus have lower mortgages.

- Nearly one of every five jobs in Eau Claire County is connected to health care.

- The presence of college students puts our median age more than three years lower than the national average.

- It's not surprising that everyone hasn't heard of lutefisk. Only 1.5 percent of Americans claim Norwegian heritage, compared with nearly 21 percent of Eau Claire County residents.

First Book-Fox Valley Reaches Out to Low-Income Populations

Link to Kathy Walsh Nufer's September 29 column in the Appleton Post-Crescent, "First Book puts kids on right reading track".

Excerpt: According to research cited by the national First Book organization:

•The ratio of books per child in middle-income neighborhoods is 13 to 1, while there is only one age-appropriate book for every 300 children in low-income neighborhoods.

•80 percent of preschool and after-school programs serving low-income populations have no age-appropriate books for their children.

•The most successful way to improve reading achievement of low-income children is to increase their access to print. Communities ranking high in achievement tests have several factors in common: an abundance of books in public libraries, easy access to books in the community at large and a large number of textbooks per student.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Feudin', Fussin' and A-Fightin' at the Flathead County (MT) Library System

Link to September 27 article, "Library board responds to complaints".

Excerpt: Flathead County Library Board Chairwoman Jane Lopp provided official answers Thursday to a long list of concerns from a group of Whitefish library supporters, but apparently didn't satisfy them.

"We wrote a five-page letter with over 20 specific questions. We would hope the board's response to our questions was less superficial and generic than they appeared," said the Whitefish group's spokeswoman, Anne Moran. "I can't think of a better demonstration of the diligence our issues received than the very brief verbal response we got at the meeting today."

Lopp, on the other hand, said Thursday's answers were a full disclosure to factual questions raised in the letter. The remaining points, she explained, were matters of opinion from the group and it would be neither productive nor appropriate for her to give a formal response.

Nonfiction Increasingly Popular with Younger Readers

Link to September 28 School Library Journal post, "Kids Paying More Attention to Nonfiction".

Excerpt: Nonfiction is gaining more popularity with younger readers, according to the Children’s Choices Booklist—an annual list in which students read, critique, and vote for their favorite books.

“[Non-fiction] is very popular with reluctant readers,” says Stan Steiner of Boise State University’s Department of Literacy and chair of this year’s Children’s Choice Booklist. “You read nonfiction a little differently, with pictures and a couple of captions first, and then for information. Quite a few made our list last year.”

Tablet PCs: Will the Third Time Be the Charm?

The $400 CrunchPad
(Ready for November 2009 shipping?)

Link to September 28 post, "10 Reasons Why Tablets Will Succeed".

Excerpt: Microsoft did everything it could to excite the public and developers about the opportunities and benefits of tablet PCs. It launched an SDK and held app development contests. It had major partners building keyboard-less tablet PCs and convertibles, the latter of which looked exactly like laptops, except you could flip the screen around so it faced up and fold the back of the screen right on top of the keyboard. Ultimately, though, tablets never rose above a niche market—popular in inventory departments and especially the healthcare and education markets, but marginalized everywhere else.

Based on this history, you might assume that this third coming of the tablet would be equally doomed. You'd be wrong. Things are different now. There are a number of technology advancements and changes in computing behavior that could spell success for this latest generation of portable devices. Here are a few:

1. Battery life
2. Better display technologies and options
3. Higher-performance, lower-power CPUs
4. eBooks
5. Faster WiFi and broadband wireless
6. iPod Touch and iPhone
7. Gesture-based computing
8. Windows 7 and Multi-Touch
9. Cloud-based computing
10. The browser is the platform

Dave Zweifel Promotes Banned Books Week, Oct 1 Forum at UW-SLIS

Link to September 28 Plain Talk column by Dave Zweifel, "Banning books undermines democracy".

Excerpt: To observe the week here, a panel discussion on the issue will take place in the UW-Madison's School of Library and Information Studies on the fourth floor of Helen C. White Hall, 600 N. Park St., at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 1

Among the panelists will be Bob Bocher, library technology consultant with the state Department of Public Instruction, and Erlene Killeen, Stoughton Area Schools librarian, and other local librarians with experience working with public and youth library collections.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Forks, Washington: Top Tourist Destination for Twihards

Link to September 27 New York Times article, "‘Twilighters’ Put Small Town in the Spotlight".

Excerpt: Over the last year or so, Forks (population 3,120) has morphed into a mecca for Twilighters, or Twihards as they are sometimes called. Visitors to this rainy town, whose main industries are logging and two correctional facilities, have more than tripled for the first eight months of this year, compared with the same period last year, according to the local Chamber of Commerce. Lodging occupancy is up, and local merchants sell little-vampire pacifiers and Bella and Edward action figures.

Eastern Shores Library System Celebrates Its 30th Anniversary

Link to September 10 Oshkosh Northwestern article (which I somehow missed at the time of its initial publication).

Excerpt: The library system began as the Sheboygan County Federated Library System in 1979. A County Library Planning Committee recommended the library system to the Sheboygan County Board after a 1978 study of countywide library service and library system services.

What had been a patchwork of contracts and fees for access to some municipal libraries was now a method for all the county's residents to use any library in the county.

The county levied a county library tax on the municipalities that did not operate a public library, which was used to reimburse the municipal libraries that provided service to the residents of communities without libraries.

From the beginning, bookmobile service was an important countywide service, bringing library materials to villages and schools in rural areas of the county. The bookmobile service is also celebrating its 30th anniversary.

"The Boob Tube" Debate Goes On... and on...

Still Life with TVs

Link to September 27 article, "Silence that idiot box!"

Excerpt from the comments section: In "The Plain Reader", (1998, The Center for Plain Living) Scott Savage writes: "A story that appeared a number of years ago in the Amish publication Family Life told of a busload of tourists who visited an Amish farmer. The group consisted of people from many religious denominations One of them said, 'We already know all about Jesus Christ, but what does it mean to be Amish?' The Amish fellow thought for a moment, and then asked for a show of hands for how many in the tour group had televisions. Every hand went up. Then he asked how many thought that maybe having a television contributed to a lot of social and spiritual problems in society. Again, every hand went up. In light of this, he asked, how many would be willing to give up having television. This time, no hands went up. He went on to explain that this was the essence of being Amish: a willingness to do without something if that thing is not good for them spiritually."

Full disclosure. At the present time, 2 of our 3 three TVs (in a 2-person household, I might add) are tuned to the Packers game.

Manitowoc: City, County Take Different Approaches to Budget Development:

Link to September 27 Herald Times Reporter article, "Manitowoc County, city budgets diverge. Mayor cites reality vs. ideology; county exec asks if city's calculators have malfunctioned".

Excerpt: In the same night last week it became apparent layoffs at the county level were imminent, the city of Manitowoc approved wage increases for its police union and nonunion city employees.

The contrasting events left some taxpayers wondering how the budgets of two governmental entities headquartered within blocks of one another could be on such divergent financial paths.