Monday, February 27, 2006

Blogging President-Elect

Karen Schneider talks about her pleasure in having an ALA Officer who is "clueful." And I share in that joy.

Be on the look out for a photo directory of Council, primarily thanks to the effort of Leslie Burger.

Changes in the Template

I know that not everyone visits the site every day, and that many take advantage of the RSS feeds. I just wanted to note that I have been tweaking the format some. I added my current book reading (present, future, and past), and did some other edits to my Blogger profile.

I'd welcome a tip on how to make the archives appear in reverse chronological order (newest archive on top), and on how to make only part of the profile appear.

When I get "around to it" I'll search the Blogger help, but until then....

Friday, February 24, 2006

A Library Ghost Story

It had to happen sooner or later.

Wednesday night, I was just about to put on my sleeping garb when the telephone rang. It was the alarm monitoring service. The alarm had been set off in the Main Library. They asked how long it would take for me to get there (10 - 15 minutes, I said, it was more like 8), and they said that they would notify the police.

For those who have not seen the building, think of a big "U." There are three public floors (each wing and the middle are a large box -- literally from a construction view point). There are seven floors of closed stacks which fill the middle of the "U." The staff parking lot is behind the building, and the stacks look out onto the lot.

I pulled into the lot, and ALL of the lights on the fifth floor (no access to the public floor) are on. I think to my self that's odd. I activated the back door (different security system), and read the alarm panel. It said the garage door was open. I went back out and looked. Sure enough, the garage door for the delivery van was open. I walked through the building (turning on more lights) and went to the garage, closed the door and returned. I then went to the 5th floor, turned off the lights (after ensuring that no one was there), cleared the alarm panel, and hung out for about 30 minutes waiting for the cops to show. No cops. At about 11 pm, I headed home.

Next morning on my way in, I ran into the night custodian. He said to me, "Was the garage door closed when you left last night?" I had left a little before him. I admitted I had not noticed. He said, well, I'm sure I closed it, but I had to close it again before I could set the alarm. Hmmmm, I thought.

I then went to talk to the Library Maintenance Manager. He told me that he had been called just before midnight. He came down to find three cop cars: one in the front, two in the back. The garage door was open. He saw lights going on in the stacks as they checked the building. He went in, calling loudly so that the officers would not be scared. When he got to the sixth floor, he opened the door in to the stacks to be greeted by a cop with his gun drawn. "Shh, do you hear that? I hear pages turning!" He and the other three officers had heard these noises during their stack search. After ensuring the building was empty, the cops cleared out in a hurry.

Then at about 5:30 am, the alarm company called my manager again. This time the garage door was open about a foot. He went in, and looked in the delivery van and saw the remote control sitting on the dash, but the red light was on, indicating that it was operating the door!

Now, you have to understand, that there are several staff who swear that over the years they have encountered a ghost in the stacks. Usually on the sixth or seventh floors (near the historical materials). Generally the ghost is friendly, and often helps finds missing items. There is even a story that her name is Lola.

Back to the garage....with the door closed again, my manager (who is larger than me!) called out: "All right Lola, if you are really here, make the door open!" Right then, the door started to open. He took the battery out of the remote as the hairs on the back of his neck stood on end!

Well, we made it through Thursday night without interruption, so I think we have fixed the problem. But that is my library ghost story for today!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Blogging funnies

Well, I was cleaing up my piles of documents from ALA Midwinter, and found this torn out clipping from the San Antonio paper. It was a comic about blogging. I think I was going to give it to ALA President Michael Gorman. I did not. Instead, this afternoon, I went to the web site and found these three strips from Non Sequitur which ironically appeared during Midwinter.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Despite its quirks, Brown grading system not the oddest in the Ivies - Campus Watch

Today's electronic Brown Daily Herald has a fascinating article about grading systems in the Ivy League. As a member of the Class of 1975, I was in the second class to complete four years under the New Curriculuum. As a parent of a member of the Class of 2002, I find it interesting to see how little the curriculuum has changed over the past 30+ years. It was not until my younger son went to Roger Williams University, and then my daughter to Boston U, that I realized how unique, and flexible, Brown's curriculuum is.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Rural/Urban Differences -- Not so many!

After a long holiday weekend (without checking my Bloglines), I'm wading through the mountain of messages. I was reading Jessamyn West's post about her work last week, and one section struck me:

As I was leaving this gal came up to me and asked what the drop-in was for and I gave a rough outline. She said she had a document on her laptop that she wanted to print and asked if we had a printer. In the area I live, there are no Kinko’s or other printing places, so you either get your own printer, go to the library, or get it printed by a friend who has a job with a printer. I told her to swing by which she did later. Turns out that she has an old Mac laptop with no disk drive. Because of security issues at the lab, we can’t put unknown machines on the network, so I told her to go back to the coffee shop and email it to me and we’d print it tomorrow. The letter was a recommendation for a kid who had worked with her who was either going to college or getting a job. The woman lives in a house with no electricity (and no Internet access) so did all of her work at the cafe or other places with wifi. We got the letter printed out on her letterhead and put it in the mail.
I got to thinking. Here I am in the downtown of my state's largest city (population about 142,000), there is no Kinko's or other copy outlet here. The nearest one is the Staples at 4543 Main Street (about 4 - 5 miles away). For many here, without a car, that distance is insurmountable (yes, the bus runs there, but how often? Can they afford the fare?). If you live on Bus Route 8, you are probably fine, but not if you live in the East End or on the East Side.

While most folks in the city have electricity, not all have phones, and most do not have Internet service. Even wifi can be sketchy.

Rural and urban. There are many times when the differences are less than they would appear.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

PATRIOT Act Call-in Day

PATRIOT Act Call-in Day
Originally uploaded by rochelle, et. al..
Rochelle sent me the link to her flickr postings with this great photo. Be sure to read the areas she has highlighted with comments.

Thanks Rochelle!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The importance of Libraries

My friend Jessamyn called attention to this great article about the value of libraries on LifeHacker. Personally, I'm thrilled at all that it says.

One link caught my eye in the first paragraph under "Membership Has Its Privledges." That was the link to That site has links to state lists, and I looked at Connecticut. Finding a public library in Connecticut can be complicated since there are so many named libraries. Other than a typo or two (Newton should really be Newtown; Branford and Bridgeport appear twice in the alphabetical list), it is pretty good.

I'm a little unclear who maintains the site, but I did send a note asking for Bridgeport's branches to be listed (as are those of the other libraries), so perhaps I'll find out. I do note that they require the update forms to be filled in by a "library official."

Monday, February 13, 2006

Homework: Gravy or Sauce; the Attic stairs

I've actually been home for most of the last couple of weekends. Super Bowl weekend, I spent part of Saturday making homemade tomato sauce (or spaghetti sauce, if you prefer). I got to thinking about what I was making. (By the way, it was with tomatoes from our garden which had been in the freezer for a while...) When I first came to Bridgeport, one of my staff used to talk about going home and "making gravy" for dinner. I didn't get it at first. She was talking about making sauce. Apparently, in some circles, at least here in Bridgeport, it is called gravy. I haven't tracked down which Italian immigrants use this term, but it is on the to do list.

I also finished up work on the attic door. With my son's help I installed it January 2. As you can see from the first photo, I took off the casing, and exposed the previous paint job on the ceiling--green! So, Super Bowl weekend I took the old casing and re-trimmed the door. Of course, nothing in the house is square, and the new door fit slightly differently than the old, so shaving down the casing was needed. That is photo #2. Finally Saturday and yesterday, I finished the priming and painting for the finished look.

I'll note that the first and third photos are the same angle, the middle photo was taken from the top of the stairs from the first floor looking down the hall at the spot where the other two photos were taken.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

No More Free Email?

I half-heard this on the radio this morning. (And, damn, I left my MP3 player -- which includes an FM tuner -- on the dining room table. No NPR until I drive home.) I then picked it from Sarah Houghton (Librarian in Black) who links to the ars technica blog.

Will it stop spam? Not much based on my glances at the daily "audit" of the email coming into my work mail boxes. It sure seems like the spam volume fluctuates. Right now I am back to a one-to-one ratio of spam to real messages (on the more widely broadcast of my two work emails).

But until Hotmail does this it will not help me! I don't think I have received more than one or two AOL or Yahoo spam messages in any given day for more than several months.

It will be interesting to see where this goes.

Friday, February 03, 2006

The Meme of Four

Alright....I've been tagged by Karen Schneider...I'm not getting into the Chris Berman nickname thing since I actually have met Chris, he was 2 years behind me at Brown.

Four jobs I've had in my life (other than library) and in chronological order:

  • Paperboy for the now defunct Worcester Telegram (it is now part of the Worcester Telegram and Gazette but it is the web site name, cool!);
  • Busboy at a New Hampshire White Mountains resort;
  • Bellhop at the Jared Coffin House on Nantucket;
  • waiter/bartender while an undergrad at Brown; hmmm, the rest of my jobs have all been library ones.
Four movies I could watch over and over:

Four places I've lived:

  • Shrewsbury (MA)
  • Providence (RI)
  • Champaign (IL)
  • Tucson (AZ)
Four TV shows I love to watch:

  • Good Eats (Alton Brown rocks!)
  • What Not to Wear (I sometimes want fashion hints for me but rarely get them)
  • This Old House (I got my own Money Pit)
  • Boston Legal (Shatner is hysterical, and the ensemble cast is wonderful)
Four websites I visit daily:

  • Can I count my aggregator?
  • My browsers all open to MPOW
  • Brown Daily Herald (but usually from the link in the daily email--push works!)
  • um, um, Karen's?
4 Places I have been on vacation:

  • Nantucket (I love it, my grandparents used to summer there, and my parents were married there)
  • Holland, Michigan (on the big lake)
  • Bisbee, Arizona (stayed at the Copper Queen)
Four of my favorite foods:

  • Beef (it's what's for dinner) -- any kind, rare preferred
  • Rice (my preferred grad school, I'd sometimes ride my bike back to the apartment cook 1/2 cup uncooked rice and eat it while washing it down with a Stroh's in a long-neck)
  • Pork --Emeril did not make my top 4, but he is right when he says "Pork fat rules!"
  • Black Raspberry Ice Cream -- this is a New England thing, I learned that the hard way. Like Maple Walnut Ice Cream, it is almost impossible to find outside the northeastern US
Four places I'd rather be:

  • Chicago (great city, vibrant, great downtown)
  • On a beach....I'm not particular, love the Nantucket beaches, spent lots of time in Rhode Island at the beach...have to have shade and a book!
  • ALA know I think Council has a bad rep; and when you are in the meeting you can never tell just exactly what city we are in. I love the assortment of people (and really enjoy many of them as individuals, too). I love the whole group process. And the new parliamentarian [Eli Mina] has helped with the atmosphere.
  • I'm working on #4....I find that one of my weaknesses is being so wrapped up in the present that I can't focus out side that (and often neglect tasks once the "moment" has passed)
Four albums I canĂ‚’t live without:

  • Simon and Garfunkel: Bridge over Troubled Water
  • Carol King: Tapestry
Four Vehicles I've Owned

  • I married into a 1970 Dodge Challenger with a 191 cu slant 6. At 177,000 miles we sold it rather than put in new engine mounts. Besides, getting kids in and out of the child seat (in the rather small back seat).
  • 1980 Toyota Tercel 4 door. It was white, and the first thing we did was have the plastic seats replaced with cloth. The interior was tan. This was Tucson, after all, and the Challenger (see above) had a black interior and black vinyl roof and just BAKED in the warmer weather [most of the year in Tucson]. This car had the absolutely BEST air conditioning system of any vehicle I have ever had.
  • 1990 Hyundai Excel -- Red. Bought it new. My then 4 year old daughter picked out the color from those available on the dealer's floor. This is the car I drove as CLA President. I wrote about it regularly in my column, and it was even featured in the Southern Connecticut Library Council newsletter. It lasted 183,000 miles and ten years. It was "totaled" when someone (who worked for our insurance company) turned left across the traffic, at dusk, in the rain, without headlights on. My wife and son were unhurt, and duct-taped the bumper and drove from Northwestern Connecticut to southern Rhode Island immediately afterwards.
  • 2003 PT Cruiser -- Electric blue. Bought this when our last minivan had its lease expire. We no longer have kids at home, and it is adequate. I love the color and style. That former 4-year old who picked the red car (a color I will NEVER buy again), hates the style, and I'm curmudgeonly enough to like that!

Now I am supposed to tag four folks....and some of the folks I would have chosen have already been tagged. Let me try: Michael McGorty; Greg McClay;

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Which Amendment?

Just before ALA Midwinter, I spoke to a class at Hampshire College. [I spoke on January 12. For now the syllabus for this inter-session class is still active. It is ambitious.] Visiting that school is a whole separate post (maybe), but the trip was much shorter than I expected.

I was talking about libraries and the USA PATRIOT Act. One of the students asked a question that made me do an "Oh, I never thought of it that way!" He asked if the USA PATRIOT act not only violated the First Amendment, but also the Fourth? For those who don't have this memorized, and want to keep reading, here is what the fourth amendment says:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

His most interesting argument was: are web site cookies today the equivalent of what the framers would have called "papers, and effects?" In the late 18th century the framers would not have even begun to think about computers, bits and bytes, browsers, and software. This amendment dealt with what they knew and says that "a person's home is their castle" and should be a place of privacy and only searched with probable cause.

As I have contemplated this over the past two weeks, I'm coming around to that thought. It seems to me [not a lawyer, don't play one on TV, either] that at the very least the FISA Courts and the National Security Letters violate the fourth amendment while additionally violating the first by the gag orders.

Librarian's Party?

Reading my aggregator today, came across a post from Michael Stephens at Tame the Web to a great photo of a library school party from my vintage at Librarian Avengers.

And for a history of librarians partying (at ALA) see ALAP's web site!