Monday, December 26, 2005

What I did on my Christmas vacation

Christmas has come and gone. The last thing I bought on Saturday [drum roll please], was a new 40 gallon, gas-fired hot water heater. With the help of my son, we wrestled it into the car, brought it home, and lugged it to the basement. It replaces a hot water heater I installed about 17 years ago. Here is a photo of my handiwork.

Since I sweated connections on to the cold and hot water pipes the last time, it took only about an hour and a half to take out the old heater and put in the new one (except for the vent to the chimney). Then I went and bought new vent pipe. It took more than I thought to assemble the 2 foot section. (my previous experience had been with 4 inch or larger vent pipe, and clearly that makes a difference). However, by just after lunch, we had hot water again. The old water heater has gone to the dump…oh, excuse me, transfer station. Next Monday, we replace the attic stairs. Stay tuned. This is all possible because son #2, home from college, wants stuff to do! His help has been invaluable.

Yes, the furnace behind the water heater is on the list. However, that is not a job I think I want to tackle on my own. For that I plan to hire help. We'll try to limp through this heating season, although the state's incentive of no sales tax between 11/25 and 4/25 may push us over the edge. The water heater had no sales tax, and 6% of $400+ is money. For the furnace it would be more!

Merry Christmas

Pictured here is my favorite Christmas present. It was bought as a “gag” gift, but I love it. “So, why a buffalo?” I hear you say. Well, as a scout leader, I have taken a training course called Wood Badge. When you take Wood Badge you are assigned to a patrol named for an animal. In the United States, the patrols (in the order that we sing/march in to events) always appear in the following order: Beaver, Bobwhite, Eagle, Fox, Owl, Bear, Buffalo, Antelope, and anything else. (I know some who are members of the Wolf patrol.) I “used to be a Buffalo, (as the song says). Therefore, I have a small collection of buffalo items. This will be added. I am on staff for the next Wood Badge course, and will have lots of items to loan to the Buffalo Patrol.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Tumult in Massachusetts over Mao's "Little Red Book"

What a fire storm.

I first wish that the newspaper reporters (and others) would remember to cite the full title of the law correctly. It is USA PATRIOT Act. All those capital letters are there for a reason, it is an acronym. Here is what it stands for: Unoting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001.

I'll not post the links to the original story, which is being questioned in some circles. The statement from UMass/Dartmouth is interesting. I hope that they stand by their staff.

The Library Director there is Ann Montgomery Smith, former Library Director of the New Britain Public Library, and Executive Director of the short-lived Partnership of Connecticut Libraries. I first saw the statement after she sent it to a law librarian's list. The newspaper report noted above includes the full text also.

The story in the paper ABOUT their first story is fascinating, as well. It shows how paranoid we have all become. And who would not be paranoid with the recent revelations about wiretapping and surveillance without judicial approval?

Thanks to Jessamyn West for the links from today's issue of SouthCoast which seems to be the online version of New Bedford's Standard-Times (daily newspaper).

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

More on Library 2.0

As I was cleaning off my desk this morning, I found one more loose piece about Library 2.0 which expresses some of my concerns. It was at Information Wants to Be Free by Meredith Farkas, the Distance Learning Librarian at Norwich University.

Meredith asks all the right questions...the questions which trouble me. She starts with the premise which seems to be ignored in some of the other pieces on Library 2.0, "Libraries around the world are in such different places--in terms of their technology, their population, and the needs of their population."

I'm open to suggestions for more to read about Library 2.0, but at the moment, I still think that all that Library 2.0 is about is customer service. Library 2.0 simply focuses on the technology end of customer service without any discussion of the other aspects of library work.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Library 2.0 -- Does it disenfranchise those who need us most?

I collected together several articles about Library 2.0.

The original article by Ken Chad and Paul Miller which started it all

Jessamyn West's thoughtful response

Michael Stephens' piece on ALA Techsource

There is much about the philosophy behind the discussion with which I agree. At the same time, I sit here as the City Librarian in a community which has computers in only slightly more than half of the households. So many of the technology solutions included in the discussions of Library 2.0 completely disenfranchise those who are on the wrong side of the Digital Divide.

So I wrestle with this.

Yes it is important that the Library be everywhere (#1 on the Chad/Miller list), and we need to remove barriers to access (#2). But isn't lack of technology a barrier to access if all the data/information or service is available only electronically (or even with a priority to electronic users)? Participation of users (#3) has been a fundamental part of the creation of public library service. Most public libraries have either a governing board of users, or an advisory board. When I think about the Library in comparison to other units of government, we certainly have been flexible and led the way(#4). Do we get the technological best? Not always. We do not have the money (resources). However, most libraries I know (no matter what type) do a spectacular job of getting incredible value for the resources we expend.

Part of what I worry about most are some of the issues which Michael Stephens raises including his point: "the library is human." I see a rush by some library administrators to self-check. That allows libraries to re-deploy staff. Does it make for a better service to the library user? I'm not so sure. The reason why many of the public use branch libraries (which inevitably have more limited resources than the "main" libraries) is because of the personal service which a branch (especially a small branch) offers to the regulars.

I still need to read more and think more.

Do I think we should abandon the technology? No! And I firmly believe that articles of this type are critical to improving service. They get us to begin to think outside the box. But at the same time, some of the thinkers (while providing an important service) forget about the real-world issues which so many library administrators face.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Old movie, same role

CLA (Connecticut Library Association) President Alice Knapp writes a column for the association's newsletter each month. (I know I used to write one when I was President.) For the November issue, she talks about a short movie on the profession.

The movie is on the Internet Archive. I downloaded it, and took a look. While there are parts that are dated (the visuals, the lack of diversity, some of the technology), it is amazing how well done it is, and how well it presents librarians in a good light.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Next round of ACLU v. Gonzales

Michael McGrorty posted to the ALA Council List a link to an article about this in Sunday's Wasington Post. The article reveals the name of the organization served (and its Executive Director) who is John Doe #2. John Doe #1 is also revealed as the CLA Intellectual Freedom Committee chair for CLA.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

ACLU v Gonzales, 2nd Circuit Court

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend the 2nd Circuit Court hearing of ACLU (John Doe) vs. Gonzales. Below are some of my notes from that session.

The hearing was held in Courtroom 1705. It was standing room only by 9:50 (with court not scheduled to be in session until 10 am). Connecticut librarians included CLA President Alice Knapp, Welles-Turner (Glastonbury) Library Director and CLA Editorial Committee Chair Barbara Bailey, and Plainville Library Director and CLA Intellectual Freedom Committee Chair Peter Chase. There were also reporters from the New York Times, Washington Post, Hartford Courant, and Connecticut Post.

The case was heard before a three-judge panel. The Connecticut case was combined for the hearing with a New York case (John Doe v. Gonzales) of an Internet Service Provider (ISP) who was also served with a National Security Letter (NSL).

Since the government had lost both cases at the lower level, they were the plaintiff and went first. Douglas Letter argued for the Justice Department. His initial argument was that the lower courts rulings had significant legal errors. He noted that while judicial review is not provided in the NSL, or in section 2709 of the statutes, the Congress can by law, and has said that judicial review is not needed. He also argued that the NSL is administrative not judicial. He further argued that even though Congress did not explicitly provide for judicial review, there is review, and the filing of these two cases proves that.

Two of the judges expressed concern about the fact that the gag order has no time limits. The attorney for the US argued that counterintelligence is different from criminal investigations. Where criminal investigations usually have a finite end, counterintelligence investigations can be spread over "a very long period." He also noted that Grand Jury proceedings are sealed beyond the life of the grand jury. He noted that the investigation is ongoing for this case (he was specifically unclear about whether it was one case or both, and if one, which one). It was also clear that these judges had seen the classified information. He additionally noted that the statute cannot be "substantially overbroad" since it had not been challenged since 1986 until these two cases.

He noted that the Court could lift the gag order upon request. He also noted that there are no sanctions, criminal or civil, in the statutes. If sanctions were needed, the court would be asked for enforcement.

One of the judges expressed concern about the "shroud of secrecy" which is being created in our "open society." The attorney admitted that Congress is in the process of amending this section. He finally argued that the statute is not coercive and is demonstrated by the fact that neither of the John Doe's have provided the information requested, and have filed suit instead.

The ACLU case was argued in two parts with the first part (NY) having the majority of the time. The attorney started by noting that while the US attorney said that anyone within the organization could be consulted/told about the NSL, the wording of the documents is very clear and different, as is the statute.

The major reason why the statute was not challenged until now is related to the fact that from 1986 through 2001, the statute was very narrowly defined, and with the USA PATRIOT Act, was broadened substantially. He quoted statistics on the use of NSLs which we have seen. The other reason for no challenges is because the law is coercive and the language is very clear and specific.

He argued that the "grand jury" argument is inappropriate since grand jury witnesses are only prevented from speaking in very particular cases with very specific circumstances, and those have prior judicial review. He questioned the US attorney's comments about enforcement and noted that the statutes are coercive (versus compelling conduct).

Anne Beeson argued the Connecticut portion. In the whole time she spoke, she was not interrupted by the judges nor was she asked questions after she spoke. One of the reporters said, "it was also good to leave a whole minute on the table."

Anne argued that the issue is not to disclose the target of the investigation, but simply to disclose the name of John Doe. She also noted that even the government admits that there is no reason to continue the gag, and the government refuses to say why. She mentioned ALA (John Doe is a member of the American Library Association...) at least five times in her 7 minutes. She quoted the Supreme Court in saying that "irreparable harm can be assumed whenever speech is suppressed." She noted that John Doe's ability to speak to Congress, during the re-crafting of the law, as a recipient of a NSL, is important and will influence the debate on the law. She specifically asked that the Connecticut case be decided before the New York case since the Connecticut case is on very narrow issues, and the New York case decision will not resolve the Connecticut case.

In rebuttal, the US attorney said that there was no objection on their part to dividing the two cases. He noted that Grand Jury subpoenas do not indicated that the recipient can consult counsel, but that most people do. He first stated that it is possible to change the language on the NSL even without Congressional action, but after questioning by the judge, backpedaled to say he would check into changing the language. He ended by saying that John Doe can speak on the USA PATRIOT Act, he just can't say he received a NSL. [In other words he missed the point.]

At least 1/3 (if not more) of the spectators left the courtroom at the end of the ACLU case. To me this was an indication of how many were there just to hear those arguments.

There are articles in today's Connecticut Post (front page, below the fold), Hartford Courant, and New York Times. We do not get the Washington Post on the date of publication, so I can't check today's paper.

Here are links:

Connecticut Post

Hartford Courant

New York Times

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Extreme Camping/Extreme Cooking

Whew, what a weekend. I went to the Pomperaug District Camporee which was held at Camp Strang in Goshen CT. The weather was not ideal. Friday was fine, but during the night, it started to rain. It was one of those situations ripe for hypothermia. High temperature was about 50. It was cold, it was damp.

One of my jobs in Boy Scouts, is as District Commissioner. As the afternoon began, we got worried about the weather. Forecasts were for about 12 hours of steady, drenching rain beginning late afternoon. There were about 250 people there, but some were not ready for the weather. There were boys without rain gear, never mind gloves! The program ended early, and troops were encouraged to go home early.

I was set to join them, when the Scoutmaster asked me if I were staying. Two of the boys, who were well prepared, wanted to stay. So ... even though I had most of my gear in the car, I agreed to stay as the second adult. That also gave me the role of "cook."

It was the most challenging cooking experience I have ever had. First of all, as the day ended, it got cooler. At the same time, there was a steady 20 mile/hour wind, with frequent gusts up to 40! There was a fly over the cooking area (for most of the "event," but it was blown over about 1/2 way through the cooking.

The original menu was for baked, stuffed, bacon-wrapped pork chops accompanied by several vegetables and applesauce with a cobbler/dump cake for dessert. In the wind, and given that this was dinner for 4, we did not use the original plan. I kept minimal gear, and food. I had the 2 burner propane stove, the griddle, a pot, and the Scoutmater's utensil set.

I started the stove. Actually that took a bit in the wind. We had positioned the cooking area so that the lid of the stove was too the windward, but that was not enough shelter to get a flame, and improvised a larger windscreen which required at least two of the other three folks to hold down our contraption.

So, I started cooking. 4 fat chops on the grill. It was going slowly, until someone suggested that since they were already slit for stuffing, to just split them. Well, first they had to come off the bones, but that is what I did. It helped incredibly. When the chops were done, I took them off and put them in the lid/fry pan while heating up the vegetable. Voila, dinner. The applesauce (home-made) was served cold.

We ate quickly, and then put everything in the cars except our tents. Both the Scoutmaster and I moved our cars to the windward to act as a windbreak (of sorts).

We had identical tents. We both have the Mountain Pass XT (no longer available, looks like it was replaced by the Apex, although it is available from Campmor). Last March when we went to New Jersey I had purchased new stakes MSR "Ground Hog" stakes at Campmor . They worked great. Although it was interesting to hear the "sucking sound" that they made when I pulled them up the next morning.

Throughout the night the wind continued, and there were occasional showers. I was in my sleeping bag (having changed clothing) at 7:30 pm! The only problem with that was the necessary trip at about 3:30 am!

The wind shifted during the night, but all was well. I'll say the field was muddy in spots, because a week later, my car is still covered.

It was an adventure.

Friday, October 21, 2005

New Orleans here we come!

The ALA web site should have the announcement that the ALA Annual Conference will be held in New Orleans. [Of course Midwinter is still in San Antonio.]

This was not an easy decision. However, the economic impact of an ALA Conference is incredible. The Association itself spends a couple million dollars. The economic impact can be 25 times that. For last year in Chicago, I heard that the impact was about $50 million. We saw that also with the Toronto conference. ALA was the first major conference after the SARS scare. I know that the City was incredibly grateful to see librarians arrive! I expect that New Orleans will be the same.

ALA staff have made several trips to the City. The level of monitoring for mold is incredible. It is probably safer to breathe the air there than it is here, especially after the rain!

I am looking forward to going back to New Orleans. I hope that the charm is still there. Hearing that the Cafe du Monde had re-opened reminded me of how much I yearn for a cafe au lait and beignets.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

From Karma to Car go

Well the crash of the laptop was not as bad as expected. It was a hardware problem not a software problem, and all data has been retrieved. Now they just have to install the new hard drive, and some software and return it. I may even weed my files!

On another note, Blogger is acting funny, and only lets me type in the "Edit HTML" window and not in the "Compose" window, although the preview looks just fine. We'll see. My HTML editing is very rusty and rudimentary.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Bad Karma

Bad karma......Over the weekend I was at Scout Camp. It was the second weekend of NE-II-143, the Wood Badge for the 21st Century course. My job was that of Scribe (Paper), and I was responsible for the handouts, and the daily newsletter, plus taking photos.

We got to Saturday lunch time, and all had gone very well. We had talked about how well it was going. Never do that!!

Part of the concluding presentation is a Power Point slide show with photos. It is timed to work with a sound track, and runs 8 minutes. It is about 230 slides, and runs for 8 minutes. I had put in about 180 or 190 slides (saving periodically) when I got the BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH.

Ever get that? It is bad. Very Bad.

Two of the other folks on staff are very talented technicians (and work on PCs for a living). They went to work for about an hour, and then the bad news. It lost its boot sector. It would not start even with an XP boot disk. Pain.

Well there was an extra laptop, and I created Sunday's daily newsletter. I did not get much sleep on Saturday night because I was re-creating the slide show. (Most of the photos were on a mini-CD or two, and the rest were in electronic form on another machine.)

The course ended well.

Today, my laptop went to the Library's tech vendor. We'll see what happens next.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Countries I have visited

Well, this is much less impressive:

create your own visited countries map
or vertaling Duits Nederlands

And it is quite misleading. For where I have been in the US, see the prior entry in this blog. I have only been to border towns in Mexico, and only a few places in Canada (Toronto, for ALA; driving across Ontario from Niagara Falls to avoid Detroit). My trip to Argentina was courtesy of Rotary, and I visited only Buenos Aires (but it was a GREAT trip). My European travels were 35 years ago, when there still was a Berlin Wall, and concern about Russians. I guess I need to broaden my horizons...literally!

States I have visited

Let me see if I can post this, which idea I got from Walt Crawford.

create your own visited states map
or check out these Google Hacks.

There is certainly a pattern, and someday, I need to do the Northwestern part of the country. I'd also like to visit Michigan's U.P. (which is colored in because of my many visits to the "hand" of Michigan). I'll even claim extensive travel in the six New England states, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. I've also seen a great deal of Illinois, Iowa, Arizona, and New Mexico. Many of the other have been either plane hops in and out (Louisiana) or "drive throughs" on the Interstate.

Hmmm. No I'll have to do the world map.

Profile of "the" judge

Janet C. Hall ruled in September in the case of ACLU vs. Gonzales. Yesterday's (10/1/2005) Connecticut Post had a great front page story about her. Read quickly, I don't know how long it is free! If you have to go to the hard copy/microfilm, it starts on page 1, at the bottom.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

When is it OK to ban someone from the library?

Whew, this is hard.

Deep in my heart I believe that library service should be provided for all. At the same time, how do you make other people behave and take responsibility for their actions?

Today I did one of the hardest things I am called upon to do. I banned someone from the Library.

This young man has been an Internet regular for quite some time. A few weeks ago his behavior started to change. He began "chatting up" some of the staff. [Ironically this has been a thread on NEXTGENLIB-L for about the past week.] He was told to stop doing this. He then started asking very personal questions of staff (women staff), and did not stop doing so after several requests. He has also been following one of the other regular Internet users (a young woman).

Today, I talked with him and banned him from using the main library building for 3 months (until December 21). With me, he was acquiescent. I tried to get an address so that I could send him a letter to outline specifics and his right of appeal to the Library Board, but he refused that. I am glad that the police officer, whom we had called, was present. Now, even though he is banned from one building, we have three other branches open, and he can go there.

Where do you draw the line? Part of my responsibility as an employer is to provide a safe workplace for the staff. That is the line which this person crossed. In my career I have only "fired" three people. Once was many years ago, someone who was nearing the end of probation and was not meeting the standard of performance. The other two were in the last couple of years, and both were because the staff members fired (one a man, one a woman) were sexually harassing fellow staff members.

This spring, I encouraged then drove a staff member to the police station to swear out a complaint against a patron who was harassing her. It put an end to that ugly situation. And he was banned from using that branch.

So...grump. And this was after we had a false fire alarm in the building this morning, just before we should have opened to the public. Ugh

Monday, September 12, 2005

A Day in the Life

In emailing with one of my colleagues, I found that she has been asked to write an article chroniclers a typical work day. The most humorous example of this which I know, was published by Library Journal more than 15 years ago. It was written by David Bryant, now director of the New Canaan Library. He was a director in New Jersey, and wrote a very humorous piece.

Well, the editor of the library newsletter in Wilton, convinced me to do the same about a typical day for me. It was one of those days, including dropping the youngest off at day care (so it had to be about 1989 or so), with Rotary, book selection, and a phone call from the elder son that he forgot his keys and broke the window in the back door to let himself (and his younger brother) in the house.

Funny, yes. True? Mostly. Now how about today:
  • Dropped my car keys in the storm drain
  • Called WPCA (sewer folks) who got them out
  • Visited a branch on the way back to work
  • Had a staff member at a short staffed branch resign
  • Call from the FBI for the old typewriter ribbons
  • Innumerable ALA Council emails over Councilors behaving badly
  • Met to deal with food for the weekend (I am co-Head Cook, how many coming....don't know yet. Could be 150, could be 200.) Ordered food for 175.
  • Made appointment for oil change & to fix dragging bumper part (from AUGUST!)
  • Attended City Council Budget and Appropriations Committee (made some folks nervous -- good!)
  • Got home for dinner at 7:45 pm
  • Had three phone calls about scouting stuff before dinner!
Typical day? No! Accurate? Mostly. Note to self: Write glowing thank you note to WPCA for prompt service. I have to say, I did not pull rank, and they were great!

I'm famous (?)

Well, I had been very far behind in my blog reading, what with FBI visits, USA PATRIOT Act lawsuits, and such. I see that back in mid August, Jessamyn West (whom I admire greatly for her commitment to librarianship and technology) posted some nice words about me on her site. Not only that, Jessamyn has nailed down some of the best names on the web:,, and who knows what else.

Thanks for the plug.

Decision in ACLU vs. Gonzalez (Round 1)

The decision was released late on Friday. Here it is. It is an umitigated victory for librarians and free speech advocates. However, the ruling was stayed until September 20 to allow the feds to appeal.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Other stuff

So, why was I not at the ACLU hearing? It was move-in day at Boston University for members of the Marching Band (and others). My daughter is a member of the Marching Band. Band Camp began that evening, with the bus departure scheduled for 3 pm. That meant leaving home by about 9 am to get to Beantown, get the car unloaded, and let her get a little settled.

In the meantime, while waiting that morning, I turned on the computer and checked my email. My mother had gone for a colonoscopy the morning before. They had snipped some polyps, and I guess snipped a little too much. There was "leakage" and she went back to the ER and then they did surgery in the early hours of the morning. [Side note: I am fortunate that my youngest brother lives in her house, and had handled most of this. My second-to-youngest sister got called in early, she lives about 1/2 hour away.] So after many phone calls while driving to Boston, I stopped at the hospital to see my mother on the way home.

She is now about to be discharged and sent to "rehab" for about a week before going home. I saw her again on Sunday after representing her at her aunt's 95th birthday party. Needless to say there have been numerous emails and phone calls with my siblings over my mother's health during the past week. All the while the USA PATRIOT Act and the "will ALA meet in New Orleans in June" saga continues.

Connecticut Librarian served with NSL -- Not me!

Actually this is kind of old news, but it has been a hectic week or more. I'm not sure where it was first reported, but late on Tuesday August 30, I got a call from the ALA Washington Office asking if I could attend the open court hearing scheduled for the next morning where the ACLU was asking a federal judge to lift a gag order. Here is the Yahoo News story. Late in the previous week ALA had noted that the suit was filed, but most of us expected the hearing to be sealed.

Well, let me start and admit what I have told every newspaper reporter who called: The National Security Letter was not filed with me as the Bridgeport City Librarian.

Actually, it was quite interesting. The New York Times reporter was the only one who followed up on the question of had the FBI ever visited me. The answer was "Yes." And here is the story.

At this point (September 8) we are still waiting for the Judge to rule. I'll do some more on this later, also.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Joys of Summer (?)

Yesterday was the delivery of #2 son to Bristol RI for his senior year at Roger Williams. After unloading the borrowed car and trailer, and lugging his stuff to the second-floor apartment, we went out to grab something to eat (allegedly lunch at almost 3 pm). Driving up and back, along Route 136, we passed a couple of farm stands.

My summer has been so very hectic, that we had not purchased any fresh corn on the cob. So we did. Jill and I brought the dozen (bakers dozen) home and had that (with a couple of leftovers) for dinner. Again tonight we had corn. There is something about the really fresh corn which makes it taste so much better than what you get in the grocery store. The only problem? Being so anxious to eat the corn, that the first couple of bites burn the roof of your mouth....especially that sensitive part just behind the two front teeth. It is, however, worth the slight pain!

I remember as a kid, timing our visit to my father's favorite farm stand so that we would arrive at almost the same time as the truck from the field. He would purchase a dozen (or two) ears, and we would rush home to eat it within the hour. That is how corn should be eaten. Of course, he also told stories about the summer before I was born, when he was covering New England as a sales rep, and my mother was staying on Nantucket. He would take the ferry back to Woods Hole, and then stop and buy a dozen ears of corn. He would cook the whole dozen and eat it (the whole dozen) for dinner. Now what I remember is that he would eat whatever was left, but with eight kids (ten people at the dinner table), even two dozen ears of corn did not go very far!

The other joy of summer -- home-made ice cream. While I was in Chicago last week, Jill and the kids made ice cream using fresh strawberries from our garden. Mmmmm, good! There is just something about home-made ice cream. Maybe it is the extra fat content, or the fact that it has less air than commercial ice cream (and is therefore more dense), but it tastes a whole lot better.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Where I am now

It is the week (actually more like 9 days) which I spend at the Junior Leader Training Conference. Last year I was the Scoutmaster, and this year returned to the position I have held for 6 years before -- Assistant Scoutmaster for Administration.

We are at Camp Sequassen in Winsted CT. I have two platform tents back to back. One has my cot (with mosquito netting) and personal gear, and the other is my office with a table made from a door on saw horses, and all sorts of files, papers, craft supplies, the PC (with 26 K dial up access), and printers. Last of all is the laminating machine. I tried to post a photo with my last post, but the connection was so slow the photo was lost. I'll try this.

Today is the end of Tuesday (Day 3), we will be done on Saturday at noon, to be followed by packing up and cleaning out!

More to come!

Reflections on the Jamboree

An experience of a life-time. That is how most scout leaders describe a trip to the National Jamboree. I sent my sons, one to the Jamboree in 1997, and the other to the Jamboree in 2001. Like this one, they were all held at Fort A. P. Hill outside Bowling Green, Virginia. It’s about 20 miles from Fredericksburg.

I was honored to be chosen to serve as the Scoutmaster for one of the 11 troops which were sent from the Connecticut Yankee Council. As the 42nd largest Council in the nation, CT Yankee sends the second largest contingent of scouts and scout leaders to the Jamboree.

A Jamboree troop consists of 40 people, four patrols of eight boys, four boy leaders, and four adult leaders.

My Jamboree trip (not including all the preparation) started at a very early morning hour as we gathered at the send off point. The departure was covered live by the local ABC station. It was a madhouse. The boys quickly settled down for the 12 hour drive to Virginia. We spent that evening in the barracks at Ft. Eustis, just outside Williamsburg. Saturday morning we went to Busch Gardens for the day. The boys had fun….as did the leaders.

Sunday morning after religious services, we headed for a short walking tour of Colonial Williamsburg. It was warm, and we were actually glad to get on the buses for the trip to Fort A. P. Hill. We were met by the trucks carrying our gear (a semi-trailer and a large box truck). We spent Sunday afternoon and evening unloading and setting up camp. Monday, much of the day was spent setting up the gateway. (When my photos are back, I’ll do a separate post on that.) After that, the boys scattered to the four winds, trading patches and participating in the myriad of activities. One evening was set aside for Scoutmasters (and their Assistants) to visit the Action Centers. That evening, my three assistants and I went to the air rifle range (my eyesight is not great….I had 2 out of 5 shots actually hit the target!), the archery range (I did much better here), and “motocross” (which was really BMX bike racing). I challenged my 2nd Assistant, and he beat me the first time (because he got a great start), but I beat him the second. Call it a draw. The next morning a huge bruise started appearing on the inside of my left arm just below the elbow. It took me a day or two to figure out it was from the archery.

Other than walking around watching the activities, the other events I participated in were small boat sailing and SCUBA. I qualified for the SCUBA BSA patch, which I will proudly wear on my swim trunks next to the Mile Swim patch.

We were in our site for breakfast and dinner every day. We rotated eating with the four different patrols, and that was a good way to get a feel for how the Jamboree was going. Some of the boys were very outgoing and vocal – those I did not really worry about. It was checking on the quiet boys which took my energy. There were often issues of minor personality conflicts. It was extremely hot at the beginning and the end of our stay, and only very hot in the middle. There was a constant concern about dehydration and heat exhaustion. Only a couple of the boys in the troop needed medical attention for heat related health issues.

One of the things which surprised me was the psychic toll of being responsible for 36 young men whose parents had entrusted me with their care. I ate less than usual, and also had much more exercise than usual. I also had less sleep. I came back exhausted.

The boys had a great time. Part of the pay off was at the return. The ten buses pulled into the parking lot at about 7:30 in the evening. After unloading the bus, returning various items (including all the medical forms and medications), several of the boys came up to me for a hug good bye, and even a photo or two, one is pasted here.

It was the experience of a lifetime, and I would not have missed it for the world.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Update - What administrators do

Well, it has been one of those days...After several days, I finally completed my trek first through the emails, and then through the snail mail which arrived while I was at the National Jamboree.

Part of the afternoon was reading the incident reports which accumulated. These include all sorts of untoward events in the library. The batch ranged from a patron screaming about overdues (resolved when a family member called and apologized), to human excrement left inside the building, to a patron who has had a recent series of events where she did not control her bodily functions, to tacks left on chairs at the Internet work stations.

Then there is the paperwork. Time cards, absence slips. When they are dealt with in a timely fashion, it does not seem so overwhelming. Several weeks together....that's more work (and confusion).

I still have not read the minutes of the City Council meetings, and the newly adopted ordinances. However, I am almost caught up in reading Publisher's Weekly (PW). I really do not like the new look. I find the "foreword" quite distracting with the boxes below, and the various sizes of type. The columns are "loose" on the page, and I find my eye wandering -- and therefore I do not read everything.

I met with the Mayor's chief advisor about the hiring process for a new security officer. Of course there was the fallout paperwork from that!

In a recent email, I was pointed to an article on the future of public libraries which appeared in the UTNE Reader. I am not sure that I have completely processed what Chris Dodge is saying, but I certainly found some gems of ideas in there.

Today, I actually feel like my work-life is back under control. Of course, tomorrow is my last day in the office for just more than a week. At least this time I will have slow and painful dial-up connection, and a little time to deal with some of the issues.

I promise some more Jamboree reflections over the next week.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Back from the Jamboree

I am back from the Jamboree. Not only did I not have any access at the Jamboree, the medical tent for Subcamp 4 did not get their promised wireless access (to the medical records) until the second to last day! The Scoutmaster in the next site had his ATT wireless card, and no signal! Verizon and Nextel had good service (they brought in extra COWs for the event.)

A longer posting, and photos to follow over the next week.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Random notes - Email server crash not bad; family stuff

Well, the good news is that the email server crash was not too bad. The technician from the company which holds our service contract brought in a replacement, and by noon, email had returned to all Library staff. Of course, we had to call to tell them!. The Proofpoint server, which screens our email for spam, captured all the messages (as best I can tell).

I'm getting ready for the adventure of a lifetime. On Friday morning (in the wee, dark hours) I will be departing for the National Jamboree. This is a quadrennial event for Boys Scouts, and I will be serving as the Scoutmaster for a troop of 36 boys (with three Assistant Scoutmasters). I guess the pressure is beginning to get to me. I keep double checking my lists, and looking at the pile of clothes to pack and bring. Both of my sons have attended this event in the past, and my younger son is attending -- this time as an Assistant Scoutmaster for another troop. I am sure it will be fun, once we are on the road. Until then, it is emails and phone calls from stressed parents and scouts.

Actually, that was what I thought about during most of my driving today. I went to camp (Camp Sequassen in Winsted CT) for a couple of scout-related meetings. The bonus was being able to see both my younger son and my daughter who are on staff. I ate dinner in the dining hall. That is always interesting. It was wonderful to see the scouts and other staff and their interaction with my kids (can a 21 year old, and a 19 year old still be kids?). As a parent, I often wondered if we were doing the right thing and the best thing. I guess that I am getting satisfied that we did a pretty good job. That is gratifying!

So probably no more than one post before Jambo. Then there will most likely be an hiatus of almost two weeks while I am in Virginia. I am still fussing over whether to bring the laptop or not. I hear that there will be some wireless and some spots for power, so right now, I am leaning towards it. Time will tell. If the wireless is as promised, and I can get some digital photos, watch out!

Friday, July 15, 2005

Email server crash

Well, our still under warranty server for email has died. My tech person said that it has been going all week, coming up, crashing, and then re-setting itself. It is stressing me incredibly to come in to work and not have the new messages.

Our vendor arrived while I was in Tech Services. He had a replacement server to hold us over while we get the bad parts in the mail server replaced.

Such is life.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Thirty years ago

Where were you thirty years ago? I know exactly where I was.

July 15, 1975 was the day my father died. He was 48. I was taking the "Foundations of Librarianship" course, my first course, at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. The course was taught by a school librarian from Urbana (whose name is lost in the mists of my mind), library historian Michael Harris, and the head of cataloging at the British National Bibliography, Michael Gorman. Yes, that Michael Gorman. All three were very supportive as I made the arrangements to return home for several days for the funeral. My father's death was not unexpected. It was the end of a year-long struggle with cancer. But it is still a traumatic event. There have been many times of the past 30 years when I wished I could have had his advice, or shared a moment with him. [My mother is still alive and in good health. She turns 80 in the fall.]

It was also the day the Donald Hornig announced his resignation as the President of Brown University. He is the President who signed my diploma. He may have been a good chemist, and maybe even a good teacher. My assessment (then and now) is that he was not a particularly good administrator. He was a University President at a very difficult time, he became President in 1970 just after the campus unrest and Kent State shootings. While he presided over the establishment of Brown's Medical School, he also was president for the first strike of Brown University staff -- the support staff in the libraries. I served as a representative to the University Library Committee. I vividly remember one meeting which he attended to answer questions. He looked ill, and was extremely nervous. I actually felt sorry for him, he seemed so out of place.

So.....a little history for today's date.

Monday, July 11, 2005

"States' Rights" and ALA Council

First, let me be clear that this is my personal opinion. Not that of the ALA Executive Board, or even of any group which I may (or may not) have represented in the past. In ALA, I spent some seven years as a Chapter Councilor, and find the "attack" on Chapter Councilors to be distressing.

The ALA Council list [if you are not registered or logged in, go here first] has been full of discussion about two of the resolutions passed at Annual. In both cases the many of the Chapter Councilors spoke against the resolutions which others on Council viewed as important.

The first was the Resolution on Threats to Library Materials Related to Sex, Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation drafted by the Intellectual Freedom Round Table Councilor Carolyn Caywood. In its first, draft it had language to send the text of the resolution to specific states. That was quickly removed. However some of the language which remained could be interpreted as gently chastising the chapters for not doing enough to guard intellectual freedom including access to certain materials.

I am writing this in several sittings, and portions of this may yet show up in a post to the Council list (once I see how they look on the page).

In the discussion of gay literature, not one of the Councilors who spoke talked about the content of the resolution (which is explicitly covered by ALA Policy 53.1.15). All talked about the practical, political implications of making the statement. I believe that the folks who were aggressively pushing the resolution passionately believe in the rightness of their cause. However, I think they underestimate the public perception of ALA, and the usefulness of this statement. For me it is a question of tactics. I want to win the war, not just win the current battle.

Early in the conference, a colleague whom I love and respect, and who served with me early in my Council career, came up to me. She and I have sparred on other issues, and sometimes sparred on the tactics as opposed to the content. However, we treat each other with respect when we disagree. She said to me: "Michael, you have to stop this resolution!" (At that time, specific states were named.) She went on, "Do you know what this would do in my state? This would be more ammunition for those who want to control the information in libraries. Furthermore, at a meeting earlier today, another colleague said 'I don't need the Great Satan ALA to come into my state and tell us what to do!'" [And yes, she said it with the vehemence of italics and capitals!] She went on further, "Do you know how much it pains me to hear my Association, for which I have worked in various ways for over 3 decades, to be referred to as the Great Satan ALA?" In some senses it was a rhetorical question. However, it serves to illustrate the depth of feeling.

I guess, I am thinking that this resolution could become a kind of Pyrrhic victory. Yes, ALA Council passed it. How many legislators care? How many reactionary legislators will use this as further ammunition in their battle to "protect the public?" My concern, and it has taken me a couple of weeks to frame it, is that while ALA Council feels better for having restating an existing policy, the publicity surrounding this will give further ammunition to legislators who will continue to paint all of ALA with a liberal bias a la Dr. Laura.

It was unfortunate that a couple of Councilors took the phrase "States' Rights" and used the imperfect analogy of the civil rights movement to sway many Councilors to vote for the resolution. The issue of gay literature was not about the need for libraries to have the literature and provide access to it. As I see it, the discussion was one of political tactics and statements. Those pushing the resolution insisted on focusing on the access to the literature, while those opposing it, focused on the political results of the tactics.

Who is right? I don't know. Does it really matter who is right? What matters is whether libraries can continue to serve the information needs of all our users. This is especially true for the needs of questioning teens who often feel repressed at home and school.

What scares me about the dialog is the direction it has taken. Jim Casey said "However, we have learned during the past four years that there is no moderation among the intollerant and little point in seeking compromise with those who look upon those on the other side of the 'culture wars' to be 'proponents of evil.'" Should we give them more ammunition.

Interestingly the discussion on the second resolution is becoming blurred with the one above, that resolution came from the Membership Meeting: Resolution to Decrease Division Dues for Retired Members. It is an issue where the ALA Membership Meeting (with a quorum of 75, and only 65 voting) sent an issue to ALA Council to deal with.

I voted against both of these. The first because I believe that its passage will delay the efforts to achieve the goals set out in ALA Policy (which were never subject to repeal), and the second because division dues are set by each division's rules. It is up to the division. A new Councilor (Heather McClure) raised an interesting point: if costs continue to rise, and you are giving a discount to the large number of retiring "baby boomer" aged librarians, who is left to bear the burden? The answer of course is the Next Gen Librarians -- who we have not successfully captured in the Association. I am worried about this one!

7/14/2005: I updates with a link from the OIF for the resolution on library materials. Jessamyn's comment has a link to a site which also has it.
Notice: This entry will be revised to include links to the exact language of the resolutions, once I find those links!

It's Public

Well, I guess it is now official. In her web log, Rochelle noted this humble offering. It is in large part thanks to Rochelle, that I did this. (There are other of my colleagues whose web logs I have been sporadically reading including Karen Schneider, Jessamyn West, and Walt Crawford. Reading them helped me to decide to create my own.)

This weekend was primarily related to fatherly and scouting activities. In two weeks I'll be at the 2005 National Jamboree at Fort A.P.Hill in Virginia. (The web site even has a countdown clock.) Saturday my troop (Troop 437, Nathan Hale) was doing a dry run of assembling our gateway. Here is a photo. I love the fact that it has a book. It was designed by several fathers, without my input. Note that the group is not particularly tall (or old). It is a good group (and there are a number of scouts missing from this photo.) We repeat this one more time before leaving for Virginia on July 22.

Note, that means that there will be a brief hiatus of 13 or so days while I am more or less incommunicado.

I promise the next post will be library related and cover the current Council discussion on Chapter Councilors and at least two of the resolutions discussed this past conference.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Home Work

This is my first post from home, to test my dial-up connection. Moments from now, I head to pick up the two kids from camp (where they are working), on the way I will begin shopping for a new furnace for the house. I have done the math to calcualte the size of the house (about 1100 square feet), and am slightly scared about this. But the old furnace was installed in 1969, did not work well last winter, and the water heater has a leak, so it is time.

Once the kids are here, no time at the computer for me!

Happy weekend

Friday, July 08, 2005

Fourth Literacy

The nice folks at "It's all good" alerted me to this move by ETS. It is called Fourth Literacy. Librarians have been talking about this for years. What is scary is the stats which the ETS folks cite about web usage. It shows that the Digital Divide is still around [Scroll down the page to the indents....someday I'll be good enough to paste a more exact link]. Based on the public computer usage here, it is true!

London and more

When I drive, I think. That can be good and bad. There have been times when I have been driving a familiar route, and gotten to a point where I don't remember driving the previous couple minutes.

Last night I was driving to a meeting and got thinking about the days events in London. First, ALA Exec Board members have heard from our President (Michael Gorman) that he is safe in London. He is there at the CLIP meeting representing ALA. That was good news.

The events there had me first thinking about the four days I spent at the Rotary International Convention in Chicago just ahead of ALA. London is a diverse community with folks from all over the globe, not unlike the Rotary Convention which had folks from 162 countries around the world. Many dressed in the clothes native to their countries so there were folks from Africa in colorful dresses and shirts (many with a colorful print which included the Rotary wheel), from various Asian countries, and a bunch of Scotsmen in kilts.

It got me to thinking about who was likely to be on the subways and buses of London: Britishers on their way to work; immigrants from the former British colonies in Africa and Asia; tourists from the Continent and the U.S.; in other words, it looked just like the crowds in McCormick Place from June 18 - 22.

Why do people do the horrible things like setting off bombs. The backlash against the people or groups responsible is not going to help the presumed cause.

I was driving by the Hemlock and Aspetuck Resevoirs. They are the source of drinking water for the greater Bridgeport area, and are owned by the Aquarion Company (founded originally by P.T. Barnum). It is a beautiful drive along the shore, and I got to thinking about human nature.

Over the years I have noticed that people who are truly happy, are accepting of others they way they are. Happy people don't care about the color of your skin, the religion you practice/don't practice, who you love. They accept each individual. It is the people who are unhappy who seem to be driven to have everyone be like them. They want everyone else in the world to think and act they way that they think and act. I have to admit....I try to be like those who are happy.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Driving, Weather, and "ALA Post-Partum Blues"

Monday, I headed out to visit one of the branches. To get there I usually get on I-95 and go a couple of exits before heading down to the streets. When I did that, I suddenly realized that I had not driven on a limited access highway in over two weeks! It was almost un-nerving.

For those not familiar with I-95 in Bridgeport, it is an overcrowded, very high traffic highway which has been undergoing re-construction through Bridgeport since 1998! Someday it will be done, I hope. For this project they are widening the shoulders, installing new dividers and re-building every bridge. Of course, every bridge means most of the road through the city. As part of my drive to work in the morning, I am under parts of it as it goes over the harbor, train station, and stays above ground for almost a mile. It is quite a project.

Yesterday evening, I left the office to go to a meeting at a different branch. It was cloudy, gray, and humid. (Actually a little bit of a relief from the unrelenting sun I had during my two weeks in Chicago.) When I got to the branch (in the north part of the city), the sun was shining (and I regretted that my sunglasses were in the back of the car). Leaving the meeting, the sun was still shining, but the clouds to the east were ominous. They stayed that way. After a quick dinner I headed out to some errands, driving further east as the clouds glowered even more threateningly. Finally at about 9, it started to mist. Unfortunately that is all we got, and while it is cooler today, it is still humid.

I have had several emails from ALA friends, and think that we are all in the "ALA Post-Partum Blues." For many of us, we get to spend some concentrated time together working on important issues, thinking thoughts about the big picture and enjoying working hard on the process. We get to vote and make decisions. Now we are back home. For me, that means the every day realities of things like building problems, staff issues, and even a less-structured schedule. While we email back and forth between conferences, that personal contact is really important. I am looking forward to seeing how ALA's community software works. I am very much in favor of having technology help us to do our work, but this "blues" I am feeling are clearly related to a sense of missing the personal interaction.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

First Posting

Welcome. We are half a decade into the 21st Century, and it is about time for me to create a blog. We'll see how well this goes. At least this starts as a free service (therefore there is no cost, a scout is thrifty after all).