Saturday, July 3, 2010

Maggie the Cat Dies

Link to July 1 article.

Excerpt: Briese reported that Maggie, the library cat, became sick and died on June 19. She was a stray found by a previous library employee. Maggie was a part of the Community Library family since about 1996. While Maggie's true age was undetermined, she was believed to have been anywhere from 15 to 18 years old at the time of her passing.

Maggie became ill on June 18 and was taken to the vet by a supervisor, since Briese was on vaca-tion. Briese said she re-ceived a call and made the decision to have Maggie put down, since her rear leg area had become paralyzed. She said the vet suspected a blood clot

Related articles.
Maggie rivals Dewey for media attention.  (5/24/2010)
Board member raises objection to library cat.  (5/9/2010)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Chicago Public Library Commissioner Mary Dempsey Draws a Picture for Anna Davlantes

Link to July 2 letter to Anna Davlantes from Chicago Public Library Commissioner Mary Dempsey.

Excerpt: The public library is supported by taxpayers for the common good of all the people of Chicago – just like public school. We don’t ask our schools to make profit. Neither should we ask it of the public library. As journalist Walter Cronkite once remarked, “Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation.”

Finally, like thousands of our fellow City employees, the management of the Chicago Public Library is taking 24 unpaid holidays and furlough days this year to help close the budget gap and to keep city services, including libraries, operating for the public. Interestingly, I was on an unpaid furlough day when I watched your story last evening. And I had just returned from the annual library conference in Washington DC, a trip I paid for myself, not with taxpayer dollars

Related article.
'Fair and balanced' Fox News on the importance of libraries'.  (7/1/2010)

Fitchburg Library Bids Come in Under Budget

Link to June 26 Fitchburg Star article.

Excerpt: The City of Fitchburg could save almost $1 million after bids for the new Fitchburg Public Library were approved at the last city council meeting.

The Fitchburg City Council unanimously approved 10 of the 11 sealed bids for the new library at Tuesday’s meeting. Collectively, the bids came back at about $8.96 million.

"Because of the favorable bids that we got, the total cost of the project is still coming in under the $10 million budget if we don't use all of the contingency, and that includes the geothermal," Mayor Jay Allen said. "The board and all the people working on this have done an incredible job to make this happen and to make it happen within the budget."

Related articles:
Library groundbreaking.  (4/13/2010)
City set for library groundbreaking.  (4/11/2010)
Library receives anonymous $1 million matching donation.  (2/3/2010)
Geothermal heating encouraged for new Fitchburg library.  (1/12/2010)

Don't Know Much About Geography? Seems to be the Entire Curriculum.

Link to July 2 New York Times article, "Factory Jobs Return, but Employers Find Skills Shortage". [Print headline: "Jobs Go Begging As Gap is Exposed in Worker Skills".]

As unlikely as it would seem against this backdrop, manufacturers who want to expand find that hiring is not always easy. During the recession, domestic manufacturers appear to have accelerated the long-term move toward greater automation, laying off more of their lowest-skilled workers and replacing them with cheaper labor abroad.

Now they are looking to hire people who can operate sophisticated computerized machinery, follow complex blueprints and demonstrate higher math proficiency than was previously required of the typical assembly line worker


All candidates at Ben Venue must pass a basic skills test showing they can read and understand math at a ninth-grade level. A significant portion of recent applicants failed, and the company has been disappointed by the quality of graduates from local training programs. It is now struggling to fill 100 positions.

“You would think in tough economic times that you would have your pick of people,” said Thomas J. Murphy, chief executive of Ben Venue

Nobody Knows You're Geographically Illiterate on the Internet

Milwaukee County Supervisor Peggy West was widely ridiculed for her recent assertion that Arizona does not share a border with Mexico.

Unprecedented gaffe, right?

Not so fast, sez Jim Stangl.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel columnist decided to turn the tables on Arizona county supervisors and asked some of them about their goegraphic knowledge of Wisconsin.  You can read the results in "The 'Peggy Wests' of the West".

And while you're at it, you might want to take a look at a 2006 National Geographic/Roper Poll on the geographic knowledge of young adults. 

Yeah, that's right.  Half of the 18 to 24 years olds surveyed couldn't find New York on a map.

Can you?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

'Fair and Balanced' Fox News on the Importance of Libraries

Guess what happens when you suggest that libraries aren't necessary?

You get these reactions.   (Are Libraries Necessary, or a Waste of Tax Money?) 

[Thanks to Mark Arend for sharing.]

So the entire future of libraries in Illinois rests on how many people came into a particular library in a particular hour and what they were observed doing by a single camera crew? This is exactly why people have no faith in what passes for journalism these days.

This is the most ignorant thing i've ever read.

You're complaining about 2.5% of your taxes going to something that provides service nearly every day of the year - with many open 12 hours a day - and gives you access to a vast wealth of information you'd have to pay serious cash for as an individual (e.g., databases such as ValueLine, Morningstar, Lexis Nexis, etc.)?

You know, I'm pretty jaded, but this is just a pathetic piece of journalism. There are plenty of studies quantifying the $$$ libraries create (education, by offering small businesses resources they couldn't afford on their own, etc.) -- attack those studies if you want but to NOT EVEN CITE THEM is just so lazy, so dishonest. I've resisted the "Fox News sucks" crowd's bleating, but now I wonder.

I can not believe you are suggesting to get rid of libraries! Did you ever think the people using the 'free internet' might acutally be looking for a job? In my state of Ohio our libraries are a great resource to find a job. They offer courses on how to build and compose a resume. They have computers just for finding a job and offer you all sorts of resouces online to acheive you getting a job.

And this is just scratching the surface.

Massachusetts' Abington Public Library Cuts Hours Again

Link to July 1 Boston Globe article, "Officials get message, gird for tight year".

Excerpt:     The message sent via the ballot box was clear: no additional money for local government until there’s some serious belt-tightening, according to an opponent of the Proposition 2 1/2 override requests.

“The town needs to rein in spending,’’ Cynthia Whiting said.

Selectman Michael Franey, the board’s chairman, agreed that the public has given officials its mandate. “We are going to work with the cards we’ve been dealt,’’ he said after the vote.

As a result, said Steve Maguire, cochairman of a group supporting the tax increases, UNITE Abington, residents are going to see a different town

An appel for the teachar.

Boston Public Library on the Ropes

Link to July 1 Boston Globe article, "City scrambles to save custodian, librarian jobs".


First punch: The layoffs will include 26 school custodians, down originally from 83. The city’s 113-year-old printing plant also closed its doors yesterday, a move that will eliminate roughly 11 jobs. The library will still face 64 layoffs, down from 74. The bulk of those positions belong to library assistants and other workers whose leader, Jennifer Springer, sat down with Menino yesterday afternoon. [Emphasis added.]

“What I got was a commitment from the mayor to sit down and see what can be done to save even more jobs at the Boston Public Library,’’ said Springer, a coordinator for American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Council 93.

Second punch. But the budget woes at the library took another hit yesterday when Governor Deval Patrick signed a punitive amendment to the state budget that would strip the Boston Public Library of its remaining $2.4 million in state funding, if administrators go ahead with branch closures. State lawmakers have already slashed $6.5 million from the Boston Public Library in the last two years, a major reason the system faces a shortfall.

Related articles:
Four library branch closings delayed.  (6/22/2010)
Boston Magazine profiles Amy Ryan, Public Library President.  (6/5/2010)
State funding at risk.  (4/29/2010)
Library board votes to close 4 branches.  (4/10/2010)
Recommendation to close 4 branches (among other cuts).  (4/8/2010)
More than 100 gather to fight possible branch library closings.  (4/4/2010)
The Skinny on Boston's branch libraries.  (4/1/2010)
Library measures data published.  (3/31/2010)
Don't close the book on us. (3/29/2010)
Citywide Friends of BPL to Hold Demonstration.  (3/28/2010)
BPL Budget News Available at Website.  (3/25/2010)
A Small Branch Makes a Big Impact.  (3/24/2010)
Friends of Boston Public Library Host Read-in to Support Tax Increase. (3/14/2010)
Emotions Reach Boiling Point in Boston Public Library Discussion. (3/13/2010)
The Boston Public Library Dilemma, Continued. (3/12/2010)
Boston Speaks Up for Its Libraries. (3/10/2010)
Boston Public Library Branches to be Ranked in Consolidation Plan. (3/9/2010)
Boston Public Library Anticipating Budget Cuts in 2011. (3/2/2010)

Mecklenburg County Has Another Budget Gap to Fill

North Carolina

Link to July 1 Charlotte Observer article, "State budget could mean county cuts".

Excerpt: As Mecklenburg County leaders study details of the new state budget that goes into effect today, a big concern is how to close a $4.1 million gap needed to pay off school construction debt.

That could mean further county cuts to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools or other services, such as parks and libraries


The state budget provides money to try to save 1,600 teacher jobs across North Carolina. But it does so by taking away some proceeds from the N.C. Education Lottery given to counties to pay for school construction - leading to the $4.1 million gap Mecklenburg faces.

The state giveth, and the state taketh away.

Related articles:
Editorial board laments the passing of the Novello Festival of Reading.  (6/28/2010)
Shuttered branch could  become Friends' used book store.  (6/25/2010)
A reduced future.  (6/23/2010)
Interlocal cooperation pact.  (6/22/2010)
Three branches close.  (6/19/2010)
Town of Mint Hill perspective.  (6/18/2010)
Five towns tentatively OK $730,000 for libraries.  (6/18/2010)
Carmel, two other branches to close.  (6/16/2010)
Now that the ax has fallen.  (6/16/2010)
Commissioners to vote on budget today.  (6/15/2010)
Charlotte Mecklenburg Libraries:  It's complicated.  (6/9/2010)
Mayor wins straw vote at emotional council meeting.  (6/7/2010)
Editorial:  Should city 'stay in its lane' on libraries.  (6/4/2010)
County commissioners restore some cuts to libraries.  (6/4/2010)
Straw votes begin on Mecklinburg County budget.  (6/3/2010)
Charlotte Mecklenburg Libraries continue to look for one-time financial help.  (5/31/2010)
High school junior speaks out eloquently for libraries.  (5/30/2010)
Mayor Foxx on the art of governing.  (5/30/2010)
Mayor supports financial help for library.  (5/27/2010)
County budget:  Oh, yeah, this is fair.  (5/25/2010)
Bailout proposal not gaining traction.  (5/23/2010)
Library trustees vote to close 4 branches.  (5/20/2010)
Mecklenburg County tightens its belt.  (5/20/2010)
County manager cuts $14.7 million from library budget.  (5/18/2010)
2010-11 Mecklenburg County budget to be unveiled today.  (5/18/2010)
North Carolina woman plans on "going straight to the top" to keep Charlotte libraries open.  (5/16/2010)
Charlotte Mecklenburg officials ask local municipalities for $3 million contribution.  (4/30/2010Library Board chair speaks out.  (4/25/2010)
County commissioners seek ways to ease library cuts.  (4/23/2010)
Mecklenburg County needs to reduce $85-90 million deficit.  (4/16/2010)
County manager takes library board to task.  (4/10/2010)
Libraries now open fewer hours.  (4/6/2010)
"Save Our Libraries Sunday".  (3/29/2010)
Charlotte Mecklenburg users owe average of 55 cents in fines.  (3/27/2010)
Library announces new hours for branches.  (3/26/2010)
Library Board applies a Band-Aid to its bleeding system.  (3/25/2010)
Follow-up on Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Board vote.  (3/25/2010)
Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Board votes to keep all branches open.  (3/24/2010)
Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Board presented with 2 budget-cutting alternatives.  (3/24/2010)
More and bigger cuts looming on horizon. (3/23/2010)
Charlotte Mecklenburg Library System Rethinks Closings. (3/22/2010)
A New Day is Dawning in Charlotte/Mecklenburg County. (3/21/2010)

Take a Look at the New Design of UW-Madison's Website

Another Big Ten campus takes the time to brag, upfront, about its library services.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Just Released: Public Libraries Survey Fiscal Year 2008

This annual publication is one of Retiring Guy's favorite reference sources.

From the description on the Institute of Museum and Library Services website: This report includes national and state summary data on public libraries in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, with an introduction, selected findings, and several tables. The report, based on data from the Public Libraries Survey for fiscal year 2008, includes information on visitation, circulation, the availability and use of library computing resources, staffing, library collections and services, and fiscal information such as operating revenue and expenditures. The report includes several key findings: Nationwide, visits to public libraries totaled 1.50 billion, or 5.1 library visits per capita. There were 2.28 billion circulations of library materials (7.7 per capita) and 1.21 uses of Internet PCs per capita during fiscal year 2008. Starting with this year's release, the Public Libraries Survey data includes more detailed geographic information to help describe the communities that public libraries serve. In the coming year, IMLS will use this additional information to explore the ways in which libraries are meeting the needs of these diverse communities.

Headline Grabber: 'Quincy official says: Expose library porn watchers'

Or make them wear a scarlet letter.

Link to June 29 Quincy (Mass) Patriot-Ledger article.

Excerpt: Raymondi said part of his motivation is to determine if any library policy violators are sex offenders.

“I think the public has a right to know that these things are happening, who they are,” he said. “Parents can react accordingly, and members of the public.”

Ann McLaughlin, Quincy’s library director, said library patrons are banned from using computers if they violate the use policy on three occasions.

The “appropriate-use policy” for computers, which bans viewing of pornographic material, is posted on all computers in the library.

Patrons need a library card and need to acknowledge they’ve read the policy by clicking a box before they are allowed to use the computers.

Because there is a three-strikes rule, the library does keep track of who is caught viewing pornography, McLaughlin said. But she’s not sure if such information should be made public.

“I would say that it’s not the kind of information we would be likely to give out,” she said. “Library records have a different protection under the law. Access to what people check out from the library is excluded under
the law, so if the police come (looking for that information), they need to bring a subpoena.

Originally spotted this item under today's online selection of "Weird News" stories at the San Jose Mercury News website.

Apparently, Todd Scalzo's Wheaton Council Colleagues Didn't Take His Advice

To 'take a deep breath'.

Link to June 29 Daily Herald article, "Library board members draw council fire."

Excerpt: Some Wheaton Public Library board members could be replaced because of the ongoing dispute between their panel and the city council.

Because library board members are appointed by Mayor Michael Gresk and approved by the council, the mayor could pick new trustees when three of the nine seats are up for reappointment.

As a result, library board President Colleen McLaughlin said she's concerned either Stacy Slater or Carri Peterson won't be reappointed now that their terms are set to expire. Board member Martin L. Kyle retired earlier this month.

Several city council members made it clear they won't support the reappointment of any library board members who supported a plan to close the library on Fridays.

Link to June 29 Daily Herald article, "Push comes to shove in dispute over Wheaton library hours".

Excerpt: Wheaton City Council members are prepared to use their home-rule power to force the library to reverse its decision to close Fridays.

In a 4-3 vote, the council Monday directed staff members to draft a law that, if approved next month, would require the Wheaton Public Library to be open a six days a week during the summer and all seven days during the school year. The ordinance also would require the library to operate a minimum of four hours on days it's open

Related articles:
'Take a deep breath' advises Wheaton council member.  (6/20/2010)
No Friday hours at library irks council members.  (6/10/2010)
Bad news/good news.  (5/21/2010)
More budget cuts could lead to no Friday hours.  (3/20/2010)

Boston Gets Out of the Printing Business

Link to June 30 Boston Globe article, "Boston will stop its presses. Budget woes prompt city to outsource production".

Excerpt: A budget crunch has pushed Boston out of the printing business, prompting the city to outsource the production of everything from business cards to death certificates to temporary “no parking’’ signs. The move, city officials say, will save an estimated $800,000 next fiscal year and $1 million annually going forward.

The closure will eliminate the jobs of 16 printers, binders, and compositors, many of whom have worked for the city for decades. In a tough budget year, most of the attention has focused on layoffs of library workers and school custodians. The tradesmen feel forgotten

Survey Says: Don't Raise Taxes, Don't Cut Services

Link to June 28 Pew Research Center report, "Public Rejects Variety of Options for Fixing State Budgets".

Excerpt: Most Americans see the deteriorating budget situations in many states as a problem that the states themselves - rather than the federal government -- should solve. But when it comes to specific proposals to balance state budgets, there is more opposition than support for each option asked about -- particularly cuts in funding for education and public safety programs.

The latest Pew Research/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll, sponsored by SHRM, which was conducted June 24-27 among 1,001 adults, finds that just 26% support the federal government giving money to states to help them meet their budgets if this were to mean higher federal budget deficits. Most Americans (58%) say the states should fix their own budget problems by raising taxes or cutting services. These opinions are little changed from 2003.

But when asked about possible ways of balancing their state's budget, large majorities oppose cutting public primary and secondary education funding (73%) and funding for police, fire and other public safety programs (71%). Nearly as many (65%) oppose cutting health care services provided by the state or local government

Maybe we need to listen to another 'Something' song.

Unmarried Mothers: Survey Says...

...41% of births in the U.S. were to unmarried women in 2008.  (Compared to 28% in 1990.)

Link to Pew Research June 30 "Daily Number".

Excerpt: Today's new mothers are increasingly older, better educated and more likely to be unmarried than were mothers of newborn children in the past.

Link to May 6 report, "The New Demography of American Motherhood".

Secret Service Gives Racine Public Library Staff the Day Off

Link to Racine 29 Journal-Times article, "Library closed for President Barack Obama's visit".

Excerpt: The Racine Public Library will be closed Wednesday to accommodate President Barack Obama's visit to Racine. The library is closing at the request of the United States Secret Service, according to library officials.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

New Jersey Senate, Assembly Approve $29.4 Billion Budget

Link to June 29 Philadelphia Inquirer article.

Excerpt: The New Jersey Assembly passed a $29.8 billion budget early Tuesday morning, following the Senate's approval late Monday, all of which suspends property-tax rebates in 2010, increases no major taxes, and slashes state aid to schools and towns.

The spending plan, approved by a 21-19 vote, was down 8.8 percent from the budget for the fiscal year that ends Wednesday. It was only slightly different from the one proposed by Republican Gov. Christie in March


Education and municipal aid: Reduces school aid by $819 million, or 7.4 percent, and municipal aid by $446 million, or 23 percent. Reduced support for higher education would result in cuts to colleges and scholarship programs.

Good news for state library funding, though.

$4,299,000.   That's slightly less than 1% of the $446,000,000 cut in municipal aid.  Retiring Guy wonders what percentage of this larger amount will be shaved from local library budgets.

Probably a significant percentage if A2555 passes.

Federal aid is likely to be cut to states.  State aid is being cut to municipalities.  How ugly will it get?

The Great Recession: Survey Says.....

...55% have experienced a work-related problem.

Link to June 30 Pew Research report, "The Great Recession at 30 Months".

Excerpt: More than half (55%) of all adults in the labor force say that since the Great Recession began 30 months ago, they have suffered a spell of unemployment, a cut in pay, a reduction in hours or have become involuntary part-time workers, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center's Social and Demographic Trends Project.

The survey also finds that the recession has led to a new frugality in Americans' spending and borrowing habits; a diminished set of expectations about their retirements and their children's future; and a concern that it will take several years, at a minimum, for their family finances and house values to recover.

Not all survey findings are bleak. More than six-in-ten (62%) Americans believe that their personal finances will improve in the coming year, and a small but growing minority (15%) now says the national economy is in good shape

Hello Warren, PA: New MapQuest Feature Misses a July 4th Celebration

Not even close up.

Link to June 29 cnet news post, "MapQuest remaps itself".

Excerpt: To start the journey, MapQuest has simplified its search box for locating directions and maps. The new, more user-friendly interface resembles the ones you'll find at Bing Maps and Google Maps--probably not a coincidence. Type your entire starting address in one field, your ending address in another, and you can then see the directions and mapped route side by side.

MapQuest's My Maps feature lets you save your own personalized maps and directions for future reference. Though this feature itself isn't new, you can now log into this service using an account from AOL, OpenID, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, or Twitter. The new MapQuest also taps into the world of social networking, letting you share your My Maps itineraries with other people through Facebook and Twitter.

To help travelers along the journey, MapQuest now lets you track down specific spots along your route. You can search for hotels, restaurants, gas stations, parks, garages, and even special events anywhere along your route. Each spot includes its address, Web site, and a link to grab specific directions to it

Congratulations to Peggy Conaway, Retiring Director of Los Gatos Public Library

I don't know Peggy, but this impressive summary of her accomplishments deserves to be shared.
Link to June 28 San Jose Mercury News article, "Longtime Los Gatos library director Peggy Conaway set to retire".

Excerpt: When one door closes, another door opens: That seems to be the swing of library director Peggy Conaway's life these days. Conaway is retiring July 1, ending a career that spanned 27 years, 10 of which were spent here in Los Gatos.

That's the door that's closing, but another door will open in September when Conaway marries Chuck Bergtold, whose family once owned a prune ranch on what is now known as Placer Oaks Drive.

"We wouldn't have met if he hadn't come to hear me talk at Borders," Conaway said. That was in 2004, and Conaway was talking about her passion—history. She's written two books and co-authored a third, all with a historical perspective.

History is also what will bring her back to town post- retirement.
"I'll come back for a month and set up the new library's history room," Conaway said. And she'll continue to consult on the new library's fundraising campaign.

"I'll stay with the Friends of the Library until the campaign ends," Conaway said. The Friends are committed to raising $2.1 million to purchase fixtures and furnishings for the library."

Conaway, who helped design the Martin Luther King library in downtown San Jose, worked just as hard on the new Los Gatos Public Library

Related article:
10 questions with Peggy Conaway.  (Includes a charming picture of Peggy with her two grandchildren.)

Renovation of Palo Alto Branches Puts Pressure on Other Facilities

Link to June 28 San Jose Mercury News article, "Palo Alto Library-goers head to opening of temporary Mitchell Park branch".

Excerpt: A temporary library opened Monday at Palo Alto's Cubberley Community Center Auditorium to provide some relief to the city's main library, which has been swamped with visitors since two popular branches recently closed for renovations.

The temporary location at 4050 Middlefield Road hosts about 75 percent of the Mitchell Park branch library collection, including books, DVDs and compact discs, and also features wireless Internet, desktop computers and technical services.

"We tried to have the cream of the crop at the temporary library," library director Diane Jennings said of the collection.

When the Mitchell Park branch closed earlier this month, it joined the downtown and College Terrace branches, which are also closed for renovations, leaving only the main and children's branches open. Jennings said that over the past few weeks the city's main library has been seeing more visitors and that the lines of people seeking help from professional staff have been growing longer.

Related article: 
Good news/bad news scenarios for Palo Alto libraries.  (5/4/2010)

Barnes & Noble Pushes Nook, Loses a Wad

Link to June 29 San Jose Mercury News article, "Barnes & Noble loss widens on e-book push".

Excerpt: Barnes & Noble's fiscal fourth-quarter loss widened as it invested in electronic book technology, the bookseller said Monday.

The New York company also forecast first-quarter and full-year earnings below expectations as it plots aggressive moves into the small but fast-growing e-book market.

The loss for the three months ended May totaled $32 million, or 58 cents a share. That compares with a loss of $2.7 million, or 5 cents a share, last year

Sheboygan City Council to Vote on Trimmed Retirement Benefits

Link to June 29 Sheboygan Press article, "City plans for costs of retirement".

Excerpt: New hires for non-union municipal jobs in the City of Sheboygan would be required to start contributing toward their state-funded retirement programs under an ordinance endorsed Monday night by a Common Council committee.

If approved by the full Common Council next Tuesday, it would mean that new city employees who are not represented by a labor bargaining unit would contribute roughly 50 percent of the amount the city now pays into the Wisconsin State Retirement Fund. About 50 to 60 of the city's estimated 600 employees are non-union.

The city pays about $3 million a year into the State Retirement Fund. Currently, Sheboygan taxpayers pay both the city's portion and the employee's portion toward the fund; employees pay nothing. Officials said they're not sure how many municipalities around the state require workers to pay into their state retirement funds, but believe the number is few, if any

Related story in today's (London) Daily Mail, "Will public sector pensions face axe? Review warns retirement funds may not be 'immune' from the cuts".

Monday, June 28, 2010

Milwaukee Public Library and the Maintenance of Effort Requirement

Link to Jane 22 Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article, "Library sanctioned over budget cuts.  Budget trimmed too deeply, state officials say".

Excerpt: Under state law, municipal libraries that belong to federated library systems can't reduce their annual operating budgets below the average of the past three years. But Mayor Tom Barrett and the Common Council chopped 2010 property tax support for the library by $1.2 million, and the library missed its state-mandated target by more than $1 million, Kiely told the Library Board.

As in other city agencies, the library spending cuts were driven partly by a required $49 million contribution to the city pension fund, after years when little or no employer contribution was required. About $750,000 of that contribution covered costs for library employees, but the state didn't count that sum toward its required spending level, Kiely said in a Feb. 17 letter asking for a waiver of sanctions

Link to June 25 Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel editorial, "Hemmed in by rules. Milwaukee Public Library users should not have to suffer because of inflexible rules in tough financial times."

Excerpt: State officials say that state law requires the sanctions in cases where municipal libraries that belong to federated library systems reduce their annual operating budgets below the average of the past three years. But given the serious financial straits that most communities are finding themselves in these days, it might be a good idea for state legislators to change the law to allow for tough times. It's entirely possible that other libraries could find themselves in similar circumstances.

Wisconsin Library Association statement on maintenance of effort. (2009)

Administrative Essentials 17:  Membership in the library system.  (Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.)

South Central Library Maintenance of Effort Q&A.

Carol Fitzgerald, and Others, Speak Up for Libraries

Link to June 28 Huffington Post, "Libraries and Librarians Are Endangered Species: What You Can Do to Help".

Excerpt:   Residents, young and old, told stories about what the local library meant to them.

The council heard about story time from young children and their mothers. They heard from students who pored over the stacks for summer reading, research and book report projects, and from seniors who read the paper in the comfy chairs in the periodical section. They learned that the Italian Club meets there, and the Cooking Club, and that there is a Knitting Knitch group that gathers a crowd each week.

The council expected to hear from the book clubs that meet there or get their suggestions from the librarians; they did not expect to hear the massive circulation numbers on audio books, videos and periodicals. And in a township where the median income for a family is $94,475, they did not expect to hear people of all ages talking about library's computers --- and saying that this was their only access to the Internet.

As petitions were signed, one opinion dominated --- not one person supported closing the library. People were united, a rarity in local politics; the library needed to stay open. The politicians couldn't miss that message, and so, on the subsequent council vote, only one councilman opposed keeping the library open

Charlotte Observer Editorial Board Laments the Passing of the Novello Festival of Reading

Link to June 28 Charlotte Observer editorial, "No Novello? What a sad 20th anniversary. Popular, monthlong reading event enriched this community."

Excerpt: One of those great service programs, the Novello Festival of Reading, will be among the first to disappear this fall. That's a sad note for the extraordinarily popular event as it hits its 20th anniversary. The monthlong festival has gained so much national praise that one year a critic dubbed Charlotte a "literary hotbed" when the festival lured such participating authors as John Grisham, Joyce Carol Oates, Stuart Woods, Alice Sebold, Robert Morgan and Frances Mayes.

The festival features WordPlay and other events for children and families. It arranges for children's authors to visit local schools and sponsors workshops for aspiring writers.

One outgrowth of the festival was the award-winning Novello Festival Press which for the last 10 years has recognized and published works by Carolinas authors. The books have included fiction, nonfiction, poetry and children's books, with all proceeds going to the library. Some authors, such as Ron Rash, have gone on to national acclaim. He was the 2002 Novello Literary Award winner for his book, "One Foot in Eden." Last year, he was a finalist for a PEN/Faulkner Award, one of the foremost literary prizes in the nation

Related articles:
Shuttered branch could  become Friends' used book store.  (6/25/2010)
A reduced future.  (6/23/2010)
Interlocal cooperation pact.  (6/22/2010)
Three branches close.  (6/19/2010)
Town of Mint Hill perspective.  (6/18/2010)
Five towns tentatively OK $730,000 for libraries.  (6/18/2010)
Carmel, two other branches to close.  (6/16/2010)
Now that the ax has fallen.  (6/16/2010)
Commissioners to vote on budget today.  (6/15/2010)
Charlotte Mecklenburg Libraries:  It's complicated.  (6/9/2010)
Mayor wins straw vote at emotional council meeting.  (6/7/2010)
Editorial:  Should city 'stay in its lane' on libraries.  (6/4/2010)
County commissioners restore some cuts to libraries.  (6/4/2010)
Straw votes begin on Mecklinburg County budget.  (6/3/2010)
Charlotte Mecklenburg Libraries continue to look for one-time financial help.  (5/31/2010)
High school junior speaks out eloquently for libraries.  (5/30/2010)
Mayor Foxx on the art of governing.  (5/30/2010)
Mayor supports financial help for library.  (5/27/2010)
County budget:  Oh, yeah, this is fair.  (5/25/2010)
Bailout proposal not gaining traction.  (5/23/2010)
Library trustees vote to close 4 branches.  (5/20/2010)
Mecklenburg County tightens its belt.  (5/20/2010)
County manager cuts $14.7 million from library budget.  (5/18/2010)
2010-11 Mecklenburg County budget to be unveiled today.  (5/18/2010)
North Carolina woman plans on "going straight to the top" to keep Charlotte libraries open.  (5/16/2010)
Charlotte Mecklenburg officials ask local municipalities for $3 million contribution.  (4/30/2010Library Board chair speaks out.  (4/25/2010)
County commissioners seek ways to ease library cuts.  (4/23/2010)
Mecklenburg County needs to reduce $85-90 million deficit.  (4/16/2010)
County manager takes library board to task.  (4/10/2010)
Libraries now open fewer hours.  (4/6/2010)
"Save Our Libraries Sunday".  (3/29/2010)
Charlotte Mecklenburg users owe average of 55 cents in fines.  (3/27/2010)
Library announces new hours for branches.  (3/26/2010)
Library Board applies a Band-Aid to its bleeding system.  (3/25/2010)
Follow-up on Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Board vote.  (3/25/2010)
Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Board votes to keep all branches open.  (3/24/2010)
Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Board presented with 2 budget-cutting alternatives.  (3/24/2010)
More and bigger cuts looming on horizon. (3/23/2010)
Charlotte Mecklenburg Library System Rethinks Closings. (3/22/2010)
A New Day is Dawning in Charlotte/Mecklenburg County. (3/21/2010)

New London library and museum plan unveiled

Link to June 23 Waupaca Now article.

Excerpt: Future planning for a new library and museum facility in New London was discussed at a joint meeting of the Common Council and the Library and Museum Board June 21.

The public meeting was held in the lower level of the library with members of the two friends groups who support the library and museum in attendance. A discussion was to be held with Lonn Frye, of Frye Gillan Molinaro Architects, who has done planning over the past 10 years for a proposed library in New London

Dells Bookmobile Offers Wi-Fi

Link to June 25 Wisconsin Dells Events article.

Excerpt: The staff and trustees of the Kilbourn Public Library announce the addition of new services and an expanded summer schedule for the Kilbourn Public Library Bookmobile.
The bookmobile now offers wireless Internet, make and take activities and the opportunity to participate in the summer reading programs to its patrons in the Wisconsin Dells and Lake Delton area.

With the help of a donation from the Lake Delton Lions Club, the Kilbourn Public Library Bookmobile is now a WiFi hotspot. Bookmobile patrons will be able to log onto the Internet with their own wireless enabled computers using the bookmobile's wireless signal. Up to five computers at a time will be able to use the WiFi and patrons must be within 50 feet of the bookmobile

Former Milwaukee Branch Library Location to be 'Recycled'

Link to June 28 Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article, "Wisconsin Lutheran College moves toward buying former Finney Library. City panel expected to support sale for pre-college program".

Excerpt: The finished project will have four classrooms, a computer lab and a parent resource center, among other features, said Milton Cockroft, Pathways director. It'll be used for after-school programs now conducted at Hope Middle School, 3601 N. Port Washington Ave. Pathways' headquarters and some of its programs will remain at Wisconsin Lutheran in Wauwatosa, Cockroft said.

If the deal goes through, Cockroft said, he hopes to be operating there by the end of 2010

Stoughton Public Library Begins Renovation Campaign

Link to June 26 Stoughton Courier Hub article, "Library begins renovation campaign, discusses future expansion plans".

Excerpt:   Originally a two-story Carnegie Library built in 1908; a 1990 project added two stories. A 2007 renovation to the mezzanine kept its “period feel” when updating it for wireless internet use, said Jamie Vache, library director.

“That renovation (was funded) by a combination of city money and two bequests … and was a successful partnership that could provide a useful example for future projects,” Vache said.

Renovating the second floor would also carve out an area for teens. Although there is currently a youth adult area, “it looks exactly like the rest of the floor, and this would give them a space that identifies it as their own,” Vache said.

New furnishings and shelving would be modular in design so it could be rearranged as use changes and would fit with an expanded library, she said.

Vache acknowledged the discussion has just begun about the city’s involvement in the renovation but has some statistics that indicate the library’s value to the city. According to the library, in the past five years:

  • Customer visits up 6.5 percent
  • Computer use up 30 percent
  • Meeting room use up 55 percent
  • Materials in circulation up 15 percent
  • Child program attendance up 81 percent
  • Adult attendance up 22 percent
The library is open six days a week and averages about 500 visitors a day, which brings people in close proximity to many downtown businesses, said Vache.

Madeline Island Library marks golden anniversary

Link to June 27 Ashland Daily Press article.  (Requires Premium Online Membership to see full story.)

Excerpt: For the past half-century, the white clapboard-clad Madeline Island Library has served as a place for young and old to come, find a good book to read, a video to watch or just use the Internet.

It has been since its inception as a community meeting place, where knitting classes met, civil defense training took place, lecturers held forth and where young minds were exposed to the wide world beyond the confines of their scenic island

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Oops! Should Have Proofread Before Posting on YouTube

Link to video.

Artificial Intelligence Technology and Speech Recognition Software

Link to June 25 New York Times article, "Computers Learn to Listen and Some Talk Back".  [Print headline:  "Machines, Not Apt in Chitchat, Make Strides in Using Speech".

Excerpt:   Yet if far from perfect, speech recognition software is good enough to be useful in more ways all the time. Take call centers. Today, voice software enables many calls to be automated entirely. And more advanced systems can understand even a perplexed, rambling customer with a misbehaving product well enough to route the caller to someone trained in that product, saving time and frustration for the customer. They can detect anger in a caller’s voice and respond accordingly — usually by routing the call to a manager.

So the outlook is uncertain for many of the estimated four million workers in American call centers or the nation’s 100,000 medical transcriptionists, whose jobs were already threatened by outsourcing abroad. “Basic work that can be automated is in the bull’s-eye of both technology and globalization, and the rise of artificial intelligence just magnifies that reality,” said Erik Brynjolfsson, an economist at the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Retiring Guy is very fond is this Google mobile app.

FiveThirtyEight Takes 'A Closer Look at Housing'

Link to June 27 post.

ExcerptWhat does all this mean?

1.) The existing home sales market has farther to fall. There is simply far too much inventory on the market for prices to remain stable.

2.) During the recession, the economy lost a total of 7,281,000 million jobs. Of these, 2,102,000 or 28% were construction workers. Given the massive inventory overhang in the existing home sales market it is highly doubtful that we'll see large construction employment gains in the near future.

3.) Housing wealth is one determinant of consumer behavior. If housing prices continue to move lower, expect lower consumer spending to follow.
  (And more visits to public libraries, one might suspect.)

'Airplane' Is 30!

Anyone feeling old out there?

Link to June 27 New York Times article, "Surely It's 30 (Don't Call Me Shirley!)"

Excerpt: Within months of its release in July 1980 “Airplane!” became the highest-grossing comedy in box office history, a distinction that held until “Ghostbusters” came along in 1984. And it remains one of the most influential. Its anything-goes slapstick and furious pop culture riffs can be seen in the 20-gags-a-minute relentlessness of “The Simpsons,” “South Park” and “Family Guy” and grab-bag big-screen parodies like “Epic Movie, “Date Movie” and the “Scary Movie” franchise (the third and fourth installments of which were directed by none other than David Zucker). It also inspired “Airplane II: The Sequel” in 1982.

Copies available in DVD and video in LINKcat.

"Leave It To Beaver": 6 seasons, 234 episodes

For those of us of a certain age, this article ("Golly, Beav, We're Historic" in today's Arts & Lesiure section of The New York Times) may temporarily erase the past 50 years -- as it did here. 

And think about it:  39 episodes in each of its 6 seasons.  Quite the workload.

Excerpt:  That is what hits you first when you sit down with a box of “Beaver”: television comedy was a much slower animal back then. You have to detox mentally to watch these shows, to lay aside your caffeine and BlackBerry addictions and be prepared to wait for your rewards. That bathtub scene takes almost three and a half minutes to unspool. In that time Hannah Montana could have traded six insults with her father, tripped over a couch, lost her wig, dumped two boyfriends and had a crisis involving shoes.

Silicon Valley technologies and the fact that 'privacy just isn't what it used to be'

Link to June 26 San Jose Mercury News article, "How Facebook has changed our idea of 'too much information'".

Excerpt:    With Facebook at the forefront, social networking companies with business models hungry for personal data and a youthful generation raised on the Internet seem to be pulling the 21st century toward a more "transparent" culture, in the approving words of Mark Zuckerberg, the social networking giant's 26-year-old founder. Facebook's stated mission: "Giving people the power to share and make the world more open and connected." In other words, letting more people know more about each other.

This comes as long-standing social mores and sensibilities are being shaken by the convergence of Silicon Valley technologies. Besides Facebook, which is based in Palo Alto, sites such as Twitter and YouTube are encouraging hundreds of millions of people to share information and images. Gadgets developed here, from the PC to the iPad, have made it simple for users to create, communicate and access that vast amount of digital data. And Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and others have made it easier to find all of that information

Dane County Bookmobile Service Still Going Strong

'The Booker' visits Paoli

Link to June 26 Wisconsin State Journal article, "Young readers rejoice when 'Booker' hits town".

Excerpt:  The Booker is no ordinary wagon. It is 35 feet long, travels 257 miles a week in rain, snow and sunshine, carries about 3,500 items (books, movies, DVDs, large-print, magazines, CDs), not including the boxes of books reserved online by readers who visit at 15 stops in Dane County. Any notion of declining book reading or bookmobile use in the digital age of Kindle, WI-FI and the internet can’t be proven here, said Julie Anne Chase, director of the Dane County Library Service.

While the number of bookmobiles in Wisconsin is down to nine, the Dane County bookmobile is going strong and in neighboring Wisconsin Dells, the Kilbourn Public Library just acquired its first bookmobile two years ago.

Author Dennis McCann Shares Stories from Wisconsin Cemeteries

Link to June 27 Wisconsin State Journal column by Doug Moe, "Author digs up buried stories".

Excerpt:  A Janesville native, McCann now divides his time between Madison and Bayfield. He worked on the Janesville Gazette before moving to the Milwaukee Journal in 1983. He’d always admired Bill Stokes — who traveled the state for the Journal, uncovering one entertaining feature after another — and soon it was McCann who was doing the roving, searching out local legends and colorful characters, and introducing them to his readers in fluid prose that made writing look easy, which it is not.

As McCann notes in the new preface, he often found himself in cemeteries: “It might sound funny to say the dead have inspired a lot of stories for me, but it’s true.”

One of McCann’s favorite tales from “Badger Boneyards” is titled “The Virgin Em and Her Many Husbands,” and it began in the reading room of the La Crosse Public Library