Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Trip Down Memory Lane via the Time Archives

"Prometheus Unbound".
Businessmen, scientists and engineers from 27 nations gathered in Chicago last week to see a new breed of U.S.-produced machines, so wondrously gifted and versatile that they hold the promise of a new industrial revolution. In Chicago's huge, hot International Amphitheatre and Navy Pier, the visitors excitedly inspected 11,000 gleaming new engineering marvels in twin shows: the Machine Tool Exposition and the Production Engineering Show. The new breed—and the stars of the shows—were nearly 100 machine tools of a wholly new kind, the brilliant offspring of the marriage of the automated machine and the computer's electronic brain. They represented a giant stride toward the ultimate goal of man's industrial progress: machines able to run themselves.

Let's begin the march of progress.

"Dial-an-appliance" household equipment.  Mom is shopping downtown -- hey, remember, it's 1960 -- and calls home, adding a few digits to start up the oven to cook the roast.  No mention is made of how long the meat has been sitting in the oven uncooked.

Can opener-less cans.   dingdingdingdingding....we have a winner!!

Matchless cigarettes.  Scratch pack before inhaling.

Paper clothes.  Just think of all the money we'd save on washers and dryers and detergents and bleach and softeners, only to be transferred into the family's clothes budget.

Pocket-size portable record player.  Who had pockets that big?  But the idea is certainly on track.

Hand-size shortwave transistor radio.  Already available at $59.95.

Transistor radio the size of a sugar cube.   Very Dick Tracy, but not likely to survive a cycle in the dial-a-washer.

Transistor medical-recording devices. Soon to be available to doctors, they can be swallowed, will track down causes of a patient's stomach upset.  What happens, though, when they completely work their way through the digestive system?

A facscimile-mail system.  To be tried by the Post Office.  In retrospect, it's amazing that fax machines ever saw the light of day.  It may revolutionize mail delivery.  Priceless!

Electronic telephone exchange.  A forerunner of speed dial, which was undergoing a field test in Morris, Illinois at the time.  Any stories to tell out there?

Language-translating computer.  Developed by IBM to translate Pravda for the Air Force.

The rest of the article is a serious, comprehensive look at scientific research and development, a reminder that, once upon a TIME, the newsweekly used to do more than skim the surface of a subject.

Dad was a regular reader.

Looks like Christmas cards taped to the walls.

Differences in Opinion over Library Agreement Continue

Link to September 14 Sussex Sun article, "Trustees may adopt agreement".

Excerpt: Village trustees may adopt a proposed operating agreement between the village, the Pauline Haass Public Library, and the Town of Lisbon even though Town Chairman Matt Gehrke says the funding formula in the agreement must be changed.

"I think we (the two communities) will reach an agreement, but to formally pass an agreement that you know the other community is not going to agree to doesn't make any sense," Gehrke said.

Gehrke said the amount of money each community contributes to library operations and debt service should be based on each community's assessed valuation and use of the library's facilities.

The library board's proposed agreement continues the practice of establishing each community's share of library funding based solely on the assessed valuations - or tax base - of each of the communities

Related articles: 
Leaders of Village of Sussex, Town of Lisbon clash over funding for library. (8/26/2010)
Will annexation resolution interfere with negotiations over joint library agreement?  (8/4/2010)
Proposal to change library funding formula gets cool reception.  (6/7/2010)
Town of Lisbon Chairman proposes new funding formula for library.  (5/31/2010)

Celebrating the Friends of the Clintonville (Wisconsin) Public Library

Link to September 15 Waupaca Now article.

Excerpt: Many people found the crowded conditions in the Finney Public Library frustrating. A community meeting was called for Sept. 25, 1985. Two OWLS (Outagamie Waupaca Library System) staff members explained the formation and function of a Friends' group. The Friends of the Clintonville Public Library was formed as a non-profit organization for the public library and pledged to support library objectives. The first officers were: President-Doris Abrahamson, Vice-President-Jeanne Klemp, Secretary-Gale Hoffmann, Treasurer-Chuck Gillette, and Directors-Pete Oberhauser, Carole Sabel, and Gail Stillings.

Related article:  
Celebrating the Clintonville Public Library.  (9/10/2010)
Celebrating the Clintonville Public Library.  (9/3/2010)

Waterloo and Marshall area residents: 'Do you have your card?'

Link to September 9 Waterloo & Marshall (Wisconsin) Courier eNews editorial, "Do you have your card?"

Excerpt: Most adults carry a variety of cards with them – credit cards, a debit card, business cards, coffee punch cards and a driver’s license. There is one card available to adults (and children) that costs very little to keep in their possession yet allows them the ability to access numerous materials. The American Library Association (ALA) reports 68 percent of adults have library cards, the one card we would like to see 100 percent of American adults and children to have in their possession. For a very low cost, people can have access to thousands of printed materials including books and periodicals, and other media such as DVDs, CDs and eBooks. September is Library Card Sign-up Month and we are encouraging those without cards to stop by the local library and apply for one.

Board Member Speaks Up for the McFarland Library

Link to September 16 letter to the editor in the Thistle eNews, "The library provides service that's the lifeblood of democracy, especially during hard times".

Local government is shrinking these days. Villages such as McFarland have not had development pressures nor the responsibilities to establish and maintain water and sewer utility, roads, street lights, etc. or the added population that would increase the need for police, fire and emergency services.

But there is one area of local government that experiences increased activity, especially during a time of economic recession: the library. Over the past three years, all phases of the services provided by our wonderful E.D. Locke Library have increased dramatically: library materials checked out, reservations, returns, computer usage, study room use, community room reservations, and participation in children and adult programs.

We seem to gravitate to free public services in a time when we all must tighten our belts. These services are available to everyone, regardless of economic status. Of course, we all help pay for them through taxes and the majority of our property taxes goes to pay for our excellent McFarland School system.

I find it gratifying to visit the library and see folks busily using the computer stations, study rooms, reference library, and the inviting children’s library as well as the neatly organized rows of books, videos, DVD’s and CD’s. It always reminds me that ours was meant to be and still is a country where free access to information and good entertainment provides the lifeblood for a true democracy.

Monona Public Library: 2010 Wisconsin Library Association Library of the Year

Link to September 17 Wisconsin State Journal announcement.

Excerpt: The library was lauded by the statewide association for innovations such as "Great Stories," an outreach program for at-risk teens; a teen advisory board that launched literacy programs and year-round activities for teens; a collection of breast health materials funded by the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation in Madison; and installation of an Early Literacy Center in the library's Children's Room, funded by the Monona Community Pie Party.

The library saw a 25 percent increase in program participation and a 10 percent rise in circulation between 2008 and 2009. It was recognized as well for its "Booked for Life/Booked for a Day" fundraising campaign, which allowed patrons to rename the library for a day and to showcase their favorite library materials

Dealers Needed in Today's Economy

In the northeastern U.S. anyway.

Link to September 17 NPR story, "In Dicey Economy, Casino Dealers in Demand".

Excerpt:   When the SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia opens Thursday, it will join a growing list of places to play blackjack and poker on the East Coast.

To help meet increasing demands for qualified dealers, Northampton Community College in Bethlehem, Pa., is offering a casino dealer training program for students.

Instructor David Cleavely teaches in a classroom that resembles a casino pit, with felt-covered tables for poker, roulette and blackjack.

He starts with the basics: how to handle the chips, and how to shuffle the cards correctly. According to Cleavely, most casual gamblers shuffle the wrong way, showing the bottom card to other players. He says that shuffling should sound like a nice gentle riffle, not too loud

And the library is providing appropriate curriculum support.

If Rodney Dangerfield was still with us, perhaps this is where he'd go "Back to School".

Dave de Felice Tells Us What He Thinks About the New Dane County Website Design

Link to September 17 Wisconsin State Journal article, "County Board member wants county website reviewed".

Excerpt: A liberal Dane County Board member is criticizing the county’s new website design as being too focused on County Executive Kathleen Falk.

Sup. Dave de Felice, of Madison, introduced a resolution with 16 co-sponsors at Thursday night’s board meeting calling for the creation of a subcommittee of the Personnel and Finance Committee to review the website.

De Felice said it was hard to find information about the County Board on the home page and noted three of the seven photos in the photo gallery feature Falk at different events, including one with President Barack Obama and one with Gov. Jim Doyle

Actually, I think it's well-organized.

Four very general tabs share the top of the screen:  Welcome (homepage), Government (which also provides a link to the County Board but requires too much scrolling), Business, Recreation.

Six informational tabs are placed just under this group:  Contact Us (I sure the website designers determined that this tab needed to be prominently placed),  frequently visited, services, agencies, initiatives, sitemap (which, of course, lists the County Board of Supervisors).

Additional links are placed in easy-to-read columns on the left and right sides of the homepage.

The center section offers a statement of welcome from the County Executive, accompanied by a photo and additional links about her.  Is there a problem with this?  I don't think so.  As Dane County's chief executive officer, so to speak, Kathleen Falk is the face of county government.

Finding information about the Dane County Board of Supervisors is a 2-step process.
1.  Click on "Elected Officials".

2. Click on "County Board of Supervisors".

And voila!  (Uh-oh.  Too much Scott McDonnel?)
I do, however, wonder if "Members" would have been a better word choice than "Roster".

But in Dave's defense, there is probably room on the homepage for a "County Board of Supervisors" icon, such as the one found on the Milwaukee County homepage (which includes a photo of Scott Walker)  in the lower left-hand corner.

(Not a particularly well-designed website, IMHO.  And the top 2 headlines in this screenshot feature the phrase 'County Executive Walker'.)

Anyway, here's the placement suggestion.

Then there's the Mecklenburg County approach.
Static.  No changing pictures with captions.  No photos of elected officials.  An attractive design, tho.

And Winnebago County, Wisconsin.
The homepage features a photo of and message from the County Executive, but you have to click on "Read More" to learn his name.

Mecklenburg County Manager Regrets Hitting the 'Send' Key

Link to September 17 Charlotte Observer article, "Jones takes heat over his library email".

The application deadline is September 22.

Excerpt:   Mecklenburg county commissioners' chair Jennifer Roberts on Thursday said County Manager Harry Jones reacted inappropriately when he sent an e-mail expressing distrust of library leaders.

Roberts said she's told Jones it was "not appropriate for him to have his personal feelings get in the way of policy," when he sent the Aug. 24 message.

Jones' e-mail followed the inaugural meeting of a steering committee formed to chart the library system's future after this year's deep budget cuts.

Roberts said she believes the effort is back on track.

Jones told the Observer on Thursday he regrets sending the message and is now focused on helping convene a citizens' task force to address the future of the county's libraries

Related articles:
Library steering committee veers into off-road territory.  (9/15/2010)
Bank of America and Carolina Panthers kick off library fundraising campaign. (9/14/2010)
Another branch extends hours thanks to volunteer support.  (9/12/2010)
Volunteers step up.  (9/10/2010)
2 branch libraries to open one more day per week.  (9/5/2010)
Library urban legend in the making?  (9/4/2010)
Library launches pilot program to expand hours with volunteers.  (8/31/2010)
Group to study county library merger.  (7/28/2010)
Book stores help out the library.  (7/21/2010)
Libraries hope to expand hours with volunteers at 4 branches.  (7/20/2010)
Another change in hours.  (7/18/2010)
Matthews branch library sends out plea for volunteers.  (7/13/2010)
Most county commissioners cool to sales tax hike.  (7/9/2010)
New hours in effect.  (7/6/2010)
Charlotte Observer editorial board laments the passing of the Novello Festival of the Book.  (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)

No Mystery and Surprise in an Age of Information Overload

Link to September 18 New York Times article, "Spoiler Alert: Whodunit? Like It or Not, Wikipedia Will Tell You".

Excerpt: At the end of each performance of the Agatha Christie play “The Mousetrap,” the person revealed to be the murderer steps forward and tells the audience to “keep the secret of whodunit locked in your heart.”

Even after 58 continuous years of performances in the West End of London, the play’s twist ending has been largely preserved by reviewers, guidebook writers and the great bulk of the estimated 10 million people who have seen the play.

There is one notable exception: Wikipedia. The encyclopedia’s article about the play succinctly summarizes its two acts and then, in a single sentence, even more succinctly explains who the killer is

And here it is, bold as brass.

The question is:  Has NBC got the message?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Deep Cuts (Again) in the Works for Buffalo & Erie County Public Library

Link to September 17 Business First of Buffalo article, "Library budget cuts will trigger layoffs".

Excerpt: The Buffalo & Erie County Library system expects to cut more than 130 jobs during a reorganization process resulting from significant cuts in state and county funding.

Library executives and board members have spent the past month working with consultants on plans to deal with lost funding, the most recent including a 21 percent budge cut in 2011 from Erie County. In 2010, the library’s $27.5 million budget included $22.2 million from the county. Proposed cuts for 2011 will bring that number down to $17.4 million.

During a meeting with trustees that represent its contracting branch sites, Executive Director Bridget Quinn-Carey outlined a plan to scale back hours, staff and services at the majority of the system’s 37 branches, moving toward a hub and spoke system.

The library’s current staff includes about 1,000 people who collectively make up 450 full-time-equivalent (FTE) positions. Layoffs are expected to affect at least 130 FTE positions, or hundreds of part-time and full-time positions combined. The layoffs will be determined based on civil service seniority and union contracts

Related articles:
Editorial puts in 'a word about libraries'.  (8/30/2010)
Library could lose 25% of funding.  (8/19/2009)

Wisconsin's Shared Revenue Funding Unchanged for 2011

With some slight variations.

Link to September 17 Green Bay Press-Gazette article, "Wisconsin cities, counties to see relief from state shared revenue funding".

Excerpt: Taxpayers in cities and counties throughout Wisconsin are getting a break from an unlikely source: state officials who are wrestling with their own financial problems.

Some recipients, in fact, will enjoy slight increases in state funding, which will help offset the need to boost local property taxes in 2011.

"The word relief comes to mind," said Ellen Sorensen, director of administration for Brown County, which will see its shared revenue funding hold steady at $4.3 million.

The good news from Madison comes as cities, towns, villages and counties are putting together their 2011 budgets and, in some cases, making tough decisions about whether to increase local property taxes or cut services

See Wisconsin Department of Revenue website for more information on shared revenues.

Fond du Lac Library Director Ken Hall Named a 'Friend of Education'

(Why didn't I take a picture of Ken with his plaque while I had the chance?)

Link to September Fond du Lac Reporter article, "Library director chosen as Friend of Education"

Excerpt: Hall was lauded for his efforts in addressing the needs of displaced workers in the Fond du Lac area. According to the DPI, "Through the services of two VISTA volunteers, who recruited community members to staff the Opportunity Center at the library, more than 650 job seekers had help to improve their computer skills, write résumés and cover letters, search online for work, and research jobs and companies."

"We saw a need in our community," Hall said. "There were and still are many job seekers who lacked basic computer skills, skills that are prerequisite for nearly every opening today. We had the facilities, and the VISTA workers provided the know-how.

"I am extremely grateful to Josh Cowles and Sara Byrnes, the VISTA volunteers who got the Opportunity Center off the ground," Hall said. "They did an outstanding job and created an extremely valuable service to the community at a critical time. Their work was groundbreaking and innovative, and this recognition is due largely to their efforts.

From the DPI news release.

Congratulations to Ken, Josh, and Sara!

Here's an idea for those weeded reference books

More pics at Recyclart.

Location?  Delft University of Technology. (The Netherlands)

(Thanks to Chriss Kulp for sharing.)

More Job Seekers Using Library Computers

But regular readers of this blog already know that.

Link to September 16 Wisconsin State Journal article, "Clicking into Work: Libraries see a surge in job seekers who need help using computers

Excerpt: Internet use at the nine public libraries in Madison increased 23 percent from 2008 to 2009 and is projected to go up 27 percent this year over last based on numbers through August.

The steep recent jumps owe to the swollen unemployment ranks due to the economic recession and an increase in people who, like Johnson, need a job but also need training in the basic computer skills now all but essential in finding work, said Lisa Mettauer, outreach librarian at the central branch.

To deal with the boost in demand, the library started offering one-on-one tutoring to job seekers in April 2009, using federal stimulus funds. A federal Americorps VISTA volunteer, Jim Handorf, started the program and oversaw it.

The program has since expanded to six locations throughout the city. The most recent startup began Monday in the Allied Drive neighborhood, with the library partnering with the county's Joining Forces for Families program.

The Skinny on the Library Initiatives in the Wisconsin DPI Budget

Thanks to Wisconsin Library Association Executive Director Lisa Strand for providing the following DPI budget initiatives for libraries summary on WLA's Legislation & Advocacy webpages. (Link to full budget request.)

Bottom line:  No surprises here.  (Depending upon the level and intensity of our library advocacy -- and certain other factors, of course -- the surprises might occur later in the budget process.)

1.  Public Library System Aids.  The State Superintendent of Public Instruction is required to funding for public libraries at the 13% index level.  The current (2010) index level is 8.2%.

Wisconsin State Statutes 43.24

2.  BadgerLink.  This request represents an increase in funding ($386,000 over the base in the first year of the biennium and $400,300 in 2012-13) which addresses two goals
  • A pilot project with the Wisconsin Newspaper Association to provide access to Wisconsin newspapers, not consistently maintained by other vendors. 
  • The addition of Learning Express Library to BadgerLink, which would make this useful resource available to all state residents.

3.  Wisconsin Talking Book & Braille Library.
WiLS -- Wisconsin Library Services.
Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC).
Milwaukee Public Library

4.  Newsline for the Blind.  (Link to National Federation of the Blind for a broader overview.)

And last but certainly not least.

From the DPI website: The Common School Fund provides annual library aid support to all Wisconsin public school districts. The Fund is invested in state bonds, the State Investment Fund and in loans to municipalities and school districts through the State Trust Fund Loan Program. In April of each year, the Board [of Commissioners of Public Lands] forwards the available earnings of the Fund to DPI which then re-distributes the earnings as library aid to all K-12 public school districts in the state. The allocation which each school district receives is based upon the number of children aged 4 through 20 living in the district. The aid is sent to school districts by May 1 of each year. Each district must spend their total Library Aid allocation for appropriate library materials by June 30 of that same year. These materials include books, newspapers, periodicals, other media resources, and to a limited extent, computers.

Read the full text of the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau's 'Constitutional Highlights' report on the Common School Fund.

(And as a result of this post, I have finished a portion of next Wednesday's LIS 712 lesson plan!)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

'Ball Four' at 40

Link to September 16 Los Angeles Times article, "Jim Bouton's 'Ball Four' is still going on strong".

Excerpt: Forty years after the release of Bouton's "Ball Four," his behind-the-scenes diary of a season pitching in the big leagues, the book still resonates. And not just with curmudgeonly coaches and enthusiastic ballplayers.

"Without that book, I'd probably be a surgeon like my dad," said David Kipen who while in grade school was so smitten by Bouton's prose that he went on to become director of literature for the National Endowment for the Arts. "He hijacked my life."

Hijacked the national pastime as well because "Ball Four" changed the game and the way we follow it, helping to usher in free agency by exposing the pernicious practices of club owners while simultaneously exposing the widespread use of amphetamines in the clubhouse and the wild after-hours carousing of some of baseball's biggest stars.

That's why the New York Public Library rated it the best sports book of the 20th Century. And it's why the Pasadena-based Baseball Reliquary will mark the book's 40th anniversary Saturday at the Burbank Central Library with two panel discussions featuring the author

From "Sport: Inside Baseball", Time, 6/15/1970.

Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn was hopping mad. "This is a horrible piece of writing!" he fumed at Houston Astro Pitcher Jim Bouton, author of a new book called Ball Four. According to sources close to the commissioner's office, Kuhn went on: "You've done the game a grave disservice. Saying players kissed on the Seattle team bus—incredible! Or that some of our greatest stars were drunk on the field. What can you be thinking of?"

Time, nonfiction best sellers, August 31, 1970.
"Ball Four":  Better 'n Zelda.  Almost as good as sex!

LINKcat holdings of the NYPL "best sports book of the 20th century".  (Actually, it might be best to avert your eyes at this point.)

Newsmakers with Appleton Public Library Director Terry Dawson

Watch live streaming video from postcrescent at

FEMA Sez It Can't Support Site for New Cedar Rapids Library

Link to September 15 Cedar Rapids Gazette article,

Excerpt:   A lightning bolt of complication has hit the city’s plans to build a new public library to replace its flood-ruined one.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has concluded that it can’t now financially support the city’s chosen site for the new library – now occupied by TrueNorth Companies across Fourth Avenue SE from Greene Square Park – because it is too expensive based on a “benefit-cost analysis” tied to the National Flood Insurance Program requirements, Mayor Ron Corbett said this afternoon.

Building a new library on either of two other sites that the city had considered for a new library also is too costly, the mayor said FEMA has concluded.

Furthermore, he said FEMA has now suggested what the Cedar Rapids library board long ago rejected — that the city demolish the existing library on First Street SE and replace it on the site with a new library built one-foot higher in the flood plain than the old one.

Related articles:
New library construction will include old bricks.  (8/18/2010)
Library circulation plummets at temporary location.  (8/6/2010)
Library staff looking at the best design ideas. (5/6/2010)
For sale, old library, needs work.  (4/9/2010)
Site Selection Raises Ethics Concerns.  (2/9/2010)
Cedar Rapids Library Board to Recommend Site for New Library. (01/26/2010)
FEMA Reconsiders, Decides Library Provides an Essential Service. (12/24/2009)
Hide and Seek: Downtown Cedar Rapids Satellite Branch Library. (11/30/2009)
Early Days of Cedar Rapids Public Library. (11/20/2009)

Wisconsin DPI 2011-13 Budget Request: Public Library System Aids, Statewide Service Contracts, BadgerLink, Newsline for the Blind

Link to complete agency budget request.