Friday, November 27, 2009

Sheboygan Press Editorial Board Supports Library Funding Deal

Link to November 27 Sheboygan Press editorial, "Library funding deal best way to go".

Excerpt: Ald. Jim Gischia, a member of the Finance Committee, had proposed cutting the library budget by $228,000 so the city could keep four police officer positions in the city budget for 2010.

But a library cut would have put Mead's participation in the Eastern Shores Library System in jeopardy because the city would fall below the funding threshold mandated by "maintenance of effort."

This wasn't an attack on the services the library performs or its value to the city and its residents. In the cash-strapped world of municipal budgeting, it is wise to search for ways to reduce spending — and at least keep local property taxes from rising.

Gischia's proposal to cut the library, while not popular with many, did get the discussion going. And, his call for funding the four police positions was the right one since the city has serious problems with drug dealing and gang activity.

We urge the full council to agree to the fund transfer from Mead, meet the "maintenance of effort" mandate for the library and use the rest of the money to pay for the police positions.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Dothan (AL) Editorial Board Takes Its Community to Task, New Library a Chance at Redemption

Link to November 1 Dothan Eagle editorial, "A new library will show commitment to education".

A few short years ago, Houston County voters had an opportunity to ease the burden of chronically underfunded public schools with a small increase in property tax millage.

That referendum was defeated by more than 80 percent of the vote. The people’s voice was loud, and what it said was that education has little value.

What else might it have said? That people were sick to death of taxes? Perhaps that’s the answer, but property taxes here are among the lowest in the nation; surely we can spare a bit more for the schools.

It was an alarming revelation, and a mindset that needs to be addressed.


The first step is acquisition of the land, and we urge city commissioners to approve this purchase as a show of commitment to the library project and the value of education in our community. We also urge city and county officials to commit to funding the project as they would any public building — with public funds.

We hope the impetus of this project continues with future plans for branch facilities in growing parts of the city.

A community that values its libraries values the education of its young, and the continuing education of all its residents.

10 Literary One-Hit Wonders (+ Ross and Tom)

Link to March 17, 2009, timesonline article. (via planolibrary tweet)

Here's the main qualification: Luke Leitch looks at those authors for whom one novel proved quite enough. Otherwise, it would be easy to quibble with the inclusion of Salinger, Wilde, and Plath.

1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
2. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.
3. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.
4. Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger.
5. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.
6. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole.
7. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.
8. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell.
9. Dr. Zhivago by Boris Pasternak.
10. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

John Leggett's dual biography (Ross and Tom: Two American Tragedies) profiles two other literary one-hit wonders.

In 1948, Ross Lockridge Jr.'s Raintree County was published to great critical acclaim. Lockridge, who suffered from depression, committed suicide shortly thereafter. The book was made into a 1957 movie starring Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor, Eva Marie Saint, Nigel Patrick, Lee Marvin, Rod Taylor and Agnes Moorehead. (What a cast!)

Thomas Heggen adapted his 1946 novel, Mister Roberts, based on his experience in the Navy, for the Broadway stage. He won the 1948 Tony Award in 1948 for Best Author and Best Play. A year later, at the age of 29, he was found dead in his apartment. An autopsy determined the cause of death to be asphyxiation by drowning.

Minnesota Legislative Reference Library Resists Effort to Remove Report from Website

Minnesota State Capitol
Source: Wikipedia Commons

Link to November 23 Star-Tribune article, "Library is pressed to take gang force report off Web".

Excerpt: Police union lawyers argued that it should be removed because it lists names of officers still operating undercover.

Bud Shaver, chairman of the advisory board of the disbanded Strike Force, asked LaFleur to take the 40-page report off the website. When LaFleur said she would not, Strike Force Advisory Board attorney Kori Land called and wrote her. St. Paul Police Federation lawyers also tried to force LaFleur to remove the names and were unsuccessful in getting Attorney General Lori Swanson and the Legislative Coordinating Commission that oversees the library to intervene.

Swanson's office said it has no authority over the library and the commission backed LaFleur. The report is still on the library website at

Amazon and Wal-Mart Price War Heats Up

DING! End of round 1. We have a winner!

Link to November 23 New York Times article, "Price War Brews Between Amazon and Wal-Mart".

Excerpt: In what is emerging as one of the main story lines of the 2009 post-recession shopping season, the two heavyweight retailers are waging an online price war that is spreading through product areas like books, movies, toys and electronics.

The tussle began last month as a relatively trivial but highly public back-and-forth over which company had the lowest prices on the most anticipated new books and DVDs this fall. By last week, it had spread to select video game consoles, mobile phones, even to the humble Easy-Bake Oven, a 45-year-old toy from Hasbro that usually heats up small cakes, not tensions between billion-dollar corporations.

Last Wednesday, Wal-Mart dropped the price of the oven to $17, from $28, as part of its “Black Friday” deals. Later the same day, Amazon cut its price, which had also been $28, to $18.

Sheboygan's Mead Public Library Likely to Maintain Its MOE Funding

Link to November 24 Sheboygan Press article, "Deal possible to protect library funding".

Excerpt: The City of Sheboygan will likely spare Mead Public Library from a $228,000 budget cut that would otherwise jeopardize the library's membership in the Eastern Shores Library System.

Under the proposal, which was unveiled at Monday night's Finance Committee meeting, Mead would transfer $459,233 in reserve funds to the city.

The reserve funds would free up cash that the city could use — instead of the library cut — to pay for four police officer positions that Mayor Bob Ryan proposed leaving unfilled in his 2010 budget. The Finance Committee earlier recommended reducing the city's property tax allocation to the library to prevent the loss of police jobs.

The proposed library-to-city fund transfer still requires Common Council approval.

Mead Library and Maintenance of Effort Funding

Shopping Online at Work: Survey Says....

Employees plan to spend two full working days on average shopping online at work this holiday season.

Link to November 24 Appleton Post-Crescent article, "Fox Valley human resources consultant says shopping online at work could cause trouble".

Excerpt: While Stroud neither condoned nor condemned the practice of work place shopping, he did say he could understand why the trend is mounting.

"With the Internet now available to almost any employee in the workplace, it's unrealistic to think that companies can completely stop the use of work computers for online shopping," he said. "What companies can and should do is educate employees about the risks of online shopping and remind them of their company's security policy."

ISACA said the potential danger is shopping can open the door to viruses, spam and phishing attacks that invade the workplace and cost big bucks in lost productivity and may compromise corporate data.

The survey was based on an online poll in September of 1,210 U.S. consumers and 1,513 IT professionals.

And conducted on behalf of the Information Systems Audit and Control Association. Of which I know nothing but what's on their website. Hey, it's a poll, so it's meant to be taken with a grain of salt.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Interview with Pat Losinski, Executive Director of the Columbus Metropolitan Library

Pat is a Stevens Point native, graduate of the UW Madison School of Library and Information Studies (1983?), former Head of Circulation Services at the Oshkosh Public Library, and all-around great guy who has put together an outstanding list of accomplishments during the past quarter century.

Link to November 23 Columbus Underground post, "The Evolving Role of the Columbus Metro Library".

Excerpt: Last week the Columbus Metropolitan Library received another high ranking as one of the very top library systems throughout the entire US.

We sat down recently with Patrick Losinski, The Executive Director of the Columbus Metropolitan Library to discuss why our library system is so successful. Pat tells us about the history of the library, how the system continues to evolve, and reveals some of the things that the future may hold for the main library building located Downtown

Bonus round.

Academic Librarians Respond to Budget Crisis

Hale Library, Kansas State University
Source: Wikipedia Commons
A stunning, latter-day example of
Richardsonian Romanesque architecture

Link to November 22 Chronicle of Higher Education post, "Libraries Innovate to Counter Cuts". (via ALA tweet)

Excerpt: At many university libraries, the toxic economy has eaten away at staffing levels and at collections-and-acquisitions budgets. It has deflated endowments and disrupted plans to build new facilities and upgrade equipment.

But in response, librarians are doing more than tightening their belts. Some see the crisis as a chance to change the way they do business. It has spurred efforts to dream up ambitious solutions to big problems, such as collaborative storage networks that let libraries share the costs of housing valuable but burdensome print collections. The money pinch has also heightened the appeal of open-access content.

The worst of times, some say, may help make the path to better times clearer. "We joke here, and we've heard it at other places, 'Don't let a good crisis go to waste,'" says Lori A. Goetsch, dean of libraries at Kansas State University and president of the Association of College and Research Libraries. "It has maybe moved things forward at a pace that we might not have been able to otherwise."

"What Kind of Digital Legacy Do You Want to Leave on the Web?"

Based on the evidence below, my digital afterlife is going to be very tame.

49,000+ Volunteers Leave Wikipedia During 1st 3 Months of 2009

Link to November 23 cnet news post, "Wikipedia losing volunteers".

Among the top 10 most-visited sites, Wikipedia is under continual pressure to expand the scope and to police the accuracy of its data, a task that could become increasingly difficult with fewer volunteers. Errors, both accidental and deliberate, have always plagued Wikipedia.

Several reasons for the decline in volunteers have been offered by Wikipedia contributors, noted the WSJ. Many subjects have already been fully written about. The site has also enacted an array of rules to limit conflict among people who contribute to the same entries, especially on controversial subjects. But the rules often trip up new contributors who find their content removed without understanding why.

Despite those rules, arguments over various articles have also taken their toll. "Many people are getting burnt out when they have to debate about the contents of certain articles again and again," Ortega told the Journal.

See Nov 23. Wall Street Journal, "Volunteers Log Off as Wikipedia Ages". (Full site access requires subscription.)

CEO vs. Head Librarian

The Tulsa World Editorial Board weighs in.

Link to November 23 editorial, "Name game: A librarian should run the library". (via LISNews)

Excerpt: The library board met last week to talk about what its looking for in a new library boss, who will be earning $130,000 to $150,000 a year.

The responsibilities include fundraising, strategic direction and policies, long-range planning and community relations.

Those are important jobs, and we don't begrudge the planned salary, but the title CEO bothers us.

There's a name for the chief executive officer of a library — head librarian.

Titles are important. They reflect assumptions and duties to the public.

Chief executive officer is a good title for the bosses of business and industry.

Library bosses are different. The the top person might be the chief, and might be an executive, but the public needs to know the person running the libraries as a librarian. It reflects the traditional elements of what the institution is about.

"Bandwidth Shaper" Discourages Viewing of Porn on Library Computers

Source: Library Thing

Link to November 16 Charlotte Observer article, "Library fights porn by making sites load slowly". (via Resource Shelf)

Excerpt: After nearly 90 people were caught viewing porn on its public computers this year, the Greensboro Public Library is fighting back.

News & Record of Greensboro reported 89 violators were caught in the Central Library in the first half of 2009, leading library officials to buy a device that identifies porn sites and makes them load so slowly they are difficult to view on the city's public computers.

Under the library's policy for using its computers, anyone caught breaking the rules is told to stop. If that warning is ignored, the penalty is a one-day ban, then a 30-day ban for the next infraction, and finally, a trespassing charge.

Kimberly Romie, whose Piedmont Homeschoolers Association members have increasingly complained, said some parents have stopped taking children to the library.

The Greensboro Public Library's Acceptable Internet Use Agreement is found here.

Open Carry @ Your Library

Link to November 20 post, "Gunning for a library book? Better not bring your weapon". (via LIS News)

Excerpt: After an incident two weeks ago at its Fountain City branch, the Knox County Public Library system has posted signs prohibiting handguns and any weapon at its branches.

Such a sign has been posted for decades at the Lawson McGhee Library in downtown Knoxville, but not at the 17 branch libraries, said Larry Frank, director of the library system.

Frank said he wrote a memo to Knox County Law Director Bill Lockett about the handgun policy in libraries after a man came into the Fountain City library with a “visibly holstered handgun.”

“Although the patron questioned library policies, he was not disruptive in any way and did not behave in any manner that could otherwise be perceived as threatening,” Frank wrote. “The situation did make members of my staff and other library patrons uncomfortable.

“I’m appalled that someone would even consider it. It was only one incident, and it was just the idea. We do not allow guns in the library, no firearms or any weapon in the library.”

A Look at Wisconsin Department of Corrections Library System

Link to Commentary by Julie Wurl-Koth, Director of the Office of Program Services at the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, in November 23 Green Bay Post-Gazette, "Books are flowing to prisons".

Excerpt: On behalf of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, I would like to clarify statements in the Nov. 16 article by Camy Matthay, "Keep books flowing to prisons."

Matthay's assertion, "Wisconsin is the only state banning used books to prisoners," is not supported by the facts. Publishers Weekly, a national trade publication, reported last year that numerous states utilize an approved vendor system for direct inmate book purchases, like the system Wisconsin uses. In addition, we do welcome used books in our prison libraries, where trained staff can receive the donations, review them in accordance with necessary protocols and then make the donated books available for any interested inmate to access.

We have 25 institution libraries that are staffed with professional librarians, teachers and other employees. The average institution library houses a collection of 8,000 to 10,000 books. In 2008 alone, our library system collectively circulated almost 900,000 materials, a number that exceeds the circulation of all of the libraries in many Wisconsin counties. Additionally, the majority of institutions maintain "satellite" reading collections on the housing units to encourage and promote reading.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Northport Alabama Pays a Pittance for Library Services

Link to November 19 Tuscaloosa News article, "Budget battle focuses on library funds".

Excerpt: Officials from the Tuscaloosa Public Library met with the Northport City Council to ask for more money during a council work session Thursday night.

Last year, Northport gave the library $45,000. During an initial first draft of a working budget, the city had listed no money for the library. But the city now plans to give the library money in 2010.

How much is not yet known.

“I think Northport should not do anything less than what it did last year — nothing less than that,” said LeGrand Hutchison, former Northport City Council member and Northport’s representative on the library’s board of trustees. “It’s time for Northport to step forward.”

In 2010, the city of Tuscaloosa [population 90,221] is budgeted to give $1.59 million to the library, which is an average of $18 per person in Tuscaloosa. Tuscaloosa County plans to give $1.2 million to the library, which is about $8 per person, Hutchison said. If Northport gives the same amount as last year, that would be an average of $2 per Northport resident.

Considering that Wisconsin residents pay an average of $35.02 per capita for library services, folks in Tuscaloosa County have a pretty cheap deal all around.

Some comparative samples. (All figures from 2008 Wisconsin Public Library Data)

Est. 2008 population: 95,910
2008 municipal appropriation: $4,615,988

Est. 2008 population: 72,297
2008 municipal appropriation: $3,474,091

Est. 2008 population: 63,540
2008 municipal appropriation: $2,944,481

Eau Claire
Est. 2008 population: 65,362
2008 municipal appropriation: $2,713,917

Est. 2008 population: 65,920
2008 municipal appropriation: $2,455,455

Warren County (PA) Libraries Feel the Pain of State Budget Cuts

Link to November 21 Warren Times Observer article, "Funding cuts forcing tough decision [sic] at county libraries".

Excerpt: Faced with budget constraints, some county libraries are making the tough decision to cut hours despite state mandates.

According to an e-mail from Youngsville Public Library Board President Sue Perrin, Saturday library hours in Youngsville will be eliminated beginning today, Nov. 21. Library officials have applied for a waiver to relieve the library of state mandates in terms of hours of operation.

Calls to Perrin for comment were not returned and Youngsville Public Library Director Kristy Wallace was unavailable for comment.

Sugar Grove Free Library has reduced hours as well. The library eliminated Friday and Saturday hours, beginning Dec. 1. Library Director Kimberly Wilson was unavailable for comment.

Tidioute Public Library has not trimmed hours of operation, but has not tackled next year's budget yet.

New Zealand Book Council Launches "Going West" Video: "Where Books Come to Life"

Going West is a video produced by the New Zealand Book Council. Very much worth 2 minutes of your time. (via boingboing, where so much good stuff is posted, every single day.)

Become a fan of the New England Book Council here.

Excerpt: Going West, launched [11/17/2009] and Line Andersen.on YouTube, literally brings the experience of reading alive in an immersive creative video animation. Taking lines of Maurice Gee’s book Going West (Penguin, 1992) as inspiration, this stop-motion video aims to promote and inspire the love of readin...g and books. Created for the New Zealand Book Council, the film was the brainchild of Nick Worthington of Colenso BBDO, and the creative work of siblings Martin Andersen.

Breathless Headline Implies That Libraries Showcase Decline of Print Media

Link to November 16 post, "Want evidence of the decline of print media? Go to the library." (via Resource Shelf)

In 2009, print magazines lost advertisers, readers, and now, it seems, the Main Branch of the San Francisco Public Library. This year, the branch will spend about $385,000 on periodicals, down nearly $75,000 from the year before. The reason is no surprise: magazine closings, and a switch to online databases.

With the decline of the magazine industry, libraries — long temples to all things printed — have become veritable old folks' facilities for traditional print media, a final home for 20th-century relics who are slowly dying off. A decade ago, the San Francisco Public Library system had about 15,000 print subscriptions. This year, its active collection, with at least 400 titles dropped, has fallen to fewer than 11,000, the lowest in five years, according to Main Branch chief Kathy Lawhun.

Overall, though, I don't think public libraries, taken as a whole, are quite ready to take on the role of old folks' home for print.

According to Wisconsin Public Library Statistics, the number of periodical titles owned by the state's 388 public libraries has declined by 6% since 2000. Hardly a precipitous drop.

50,102 in 2008.

51,002 in 2007.

51,331 in 2006.

49,417 in 2005.

49,770 in 2004.

53,164, in 2003.

52,404 in 2002.

52,801 in 2001.

53,213 in 2000.

And there's even been an overall gain in number of print volumes owned: from 18,637,370 in 2000 to 20,021,463 in 2008, an increase of 7.4%.

Yes, we all want to change the world, as the Beatles sang, but change in libraries is more likely to be evolutionary than revolutionary.

Brookfield (WI) Mayor Casts Tie-Breaking Vote Not to Cut Library Materials Budget

Link to November 18 Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article, "Divided council narrowly approves library funding. Aldermen restore $15,000 in earlier cuts".

Excerpt: After more than an hour of debate - and with Mayor Jeff Speaker stepping in to cast a tie-breaking vote - the Common Council decided Tuesday not to cut the Brookfield Public Library's proposed budget for materials in 2010.

Speaker cast the vote to restore $15,000 to the library's operating budget after the Finance Committee in October voted to reduce the money spent on books, periodicals and other materials and keep the library's material expenditures at 2009 levels.

The debate over library funding was the main focus of the Common Council's discussions of the 2010 budget. The amended budget - with the $15,000 restored - was approved unanimously.

According to Wisconsin public library law, "the library board shall have exclusive control of the expenditures of all moneys collected, donated, or appropriated for the library fund". i.e., applied to the library's various accounts. In other words, it would be the Brookfield Public Library Board's call as to how a cut of $15,000 would be applied. (At least that's how I was taught to interpret this "power and duty" -- and you can tell me if I'm wrong, John.) But the reality, of course, is that it's unlikely there's any wiggle room in other line items of a library's budget. That certainly was, and I'm sure still it, the case at Middleton.

I suspect, though, there are some venues where the "exclusive control" argument is NOT well-received, and, for the sake of keeping peace in the family, is not brought forward.

Debate Over Value of Newspapers Continues

Link to November 21 Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article, "Newspapers remain a vital news source".

Excerpt: If you read Friday's Journal Sentinel or the story on, however, you saw some myth busting. To paraphrase Mark Twain, when you hear someone talk or read about the death of newspapers and their newsrooms, you can respond by saying that view is greatly exaggerated and provide the following facts:

Newspapers - in print and online - continue to reach a huge audience. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of U.S. adults, or more than 171 million people, read a newspaper in print or online during an average week, according to a new study by Scarborough Research.

Adults may still read newspapers, but how deep is their love?

Not very, according to a recent Pew Research poll, "Stop the Presses? Many Americans Wouldn't Care a Lot if Local Papers Folded".

Excerpt: As many newspapers struggle to stay economically viable, fewer than half of Americans (43%) say that losing their local newspaper would hurt civic life in their community "a lot." Even fewer (33%) say they would personally miss reading the local newspaper a lot if it were no longer available.

Not unexpectedly, those who get local news regularly from newspapers are much more likely than those who read them less often to see the potential shutdown of a local paper as a significant loss.

L. E. Phillips Library Hosts Grand Reopening Ceremony

Rendering of renovated checkout area

Link to November 21 Eau Claire Leader-Telegram article, "Viewpoint: An old friend, L. E. Phillips library, sparkles anew".

Excerpt: Originally conceived three years ago as a $3.9 million project, the renovations were scaled back last year when fundraising fell short of expectations. Nonetheless, library Director John Stoneberg said, those involved feel good about what they could afford to do even on a smaller budget.

The $1.567 million project, which began in May and recently wrapped up, improved dozens of things about the library that will make it a better, more vibrant and more useful place for patrons and employees.

Much of the renovation went on behind the scenes, particularly within the lower-level maze of offices where new items are processed for the library's collection and books and other materials are shipped to and from other libraries.

However, a lot of work occurred in public areas, too, so donors and users seem pleased that they got "bang for their buck," Stoneberg said.

For instance, library visitors are greeted by a wider entryway - in part because the circulation desk was moved - as well as a curved glass wall flanking a newly expanded youth services area, which was crawling with enthusiastic children (and parents) who sat on new, brightly colored furniture reading books and clustered around computers.