Thursday, April 20, 2006

Green Kangaroo -- What?

I received an email late yesterday that Mary Ghikas now has a blog. For those who do not know Mary, she is the Senior Associate Executive Director of ALA. [That makes her the #2 staff person there, for those who have trouble parsing titles.]

So far in my Bloglines list Mary has been welcomed by Jenny Levine, Michael Stephens, and now me. Mary was important in the development of ALA's Strategic Plan, ALA Ahead to 2010, and is always on the look out for the trends which will shape both the profession and the association. She was privately very kind to me when I started blogging, and I hope you will take my recommendation that hers is a blog to watch.

You won't necessarily get the inside scoop from the Green Kangaroo, but I can pretty much guarantee thoughtful insights. Welcome Mary.

P.S. I'm still working on the idea of a Bloggers Round Table. Stay tuned.

Monday, April 17, 2006

John Doe v. Gonzales - Premature Jubilation

Upon retrospect, my jubilation over the feds dropping the case in ACLU v. Gonzales (CT) was very much premature. It was focused on the relief that George Christian must have felt to know that he no longer had to keep his secret. I know George (and have even camped with him). He is the Executive Director of Library Connection, an automation consortium in the Hartford area.

Sarah Houghton (Librarian in Black) links to the ALA announcement as well as the summary of the arguments at the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. ALA President Michael Gorman is quoted as saying that the government’s timing is “highly suspicious, coming merely a month after the reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act. The American public should be outraged that the one person in the United States who could have spoken from real experience with a national security letter, and who was seeking to join the national debate, was forbidden from doing so until after that debate was complete.” And yes, I am outraged.

I actually attended the arguments in New York, and wrote about my perceptions at that time. [Unfortunately all newspaper links have expired.] Even the Washington Post links.

Library Journal Star

One of the folks I have had the opportunity to work with through my service on the ALA Executive Board is Ria Newhouse. She was one of two "next gen" librarians who presented to the EB at the beginning of the Annual Conference in Orlando. I found the information she presented interesting and compelling in terms of thinking about how ALA will need to change. That information was an article in LJ that August. Ria was one of the 2004 LJ Movers and Shakers.

Now, she is a cover girl. The current (April 15 issue) has her latest work Professional at 28. [For the record, her birthday is the day before the cover date of LJ. It is an interesting article about her life as an up and coming academic library professional. Read it!

Ria is on my list of recommended candidates for Council. If you have not voted, vote for for me!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

ALA Blogger Round Table - Part 2 (and revised & corrected)

I received a surprising response to my original post (probably because people like the "Stephens'" [Jack and Michael] and Karen Schneider linked to it). Most were overwhelmingly supportive.

Not all were, and that's OK. Jack Stephens criticized my not posting the section from the Bylaws, although I did link to them. His criticism that perhaps this activity should be part of LITA was echoed (and supported) in an email to me from Walt Crawford. Walt gave me permission to quote:
I don't see that blogging represents an aspect of librarianship sufficient to warrant ALA round table status. I do see that blogging represents a use of library technology sufficient to warrant a LITA Interest Group, if anyone wanted to start one.
As a Pastformer President of LITA, Walt has probably forgotten much more about that group than I will ever know. As part of a later exchange, I learned that:

LITA interest groups are open to all ALA members; only the officer[s] need to be LITA members. (And, to the extent that they still use petitions to start LITA IGs, 8 of 10 signatories need to be LITA members.)

IGs, unique to LITA and implemented way back when when we got rid of sections, are more potent than Discussion Groups (they can request budgets and organize programs, and are in fact LITA's primary program-generation source), but they're also self-forming, self-governing, and in every case I've seen run on the principle that "whoever's here is part of the IG, whether LITA member or not."

I trust Walt.

At the same time, it is not just new librarians who can get lost in the complexity of ALA and the divisions...look what just happened to me! I am learning.

I am still collecting information on how to form a Round Table and what a budget would go to, and how it would be constructed. Part of the budget would be needed to pay for conference activities (meeting room support like projectors for a conference program).

I am going to take the long weekend to continue to consider responses. Are there eight to a dozen current LITA members who are willing to take on the leadership of an Interest Group if that is the way to go?

[Addition, 5 minutes after posting] Karen Schneider offers a great post: What a RT Could Do. This captures, eloquently, much of my thinking. Particularly her third paragraph which is what got me started to think about the idea. The comments on this post are worth reading also, with a grain of truth. I'll admit it freely, Karen is a better writer than I. Thanks for the additional thoughts Karen. And as you admit, is this the most important thing? No. Is it a good thing? I'd like to think so.

[Correction 4/14/2006 -- my friend Walt Crawford is not the Past President of LITA, but a former President of LITA.]

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

ACLU v. Gonzales is now moot

From Al Kagan at University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (my alma mater for Library School) comes this great news which I am posting unedited.

From: Susan Searing
Date: April 12, 2006 2:53:07 PM CDT
Subject: Connecticut librarian prevails

*Prosecutors Drop Appeal in Librarian Case*

STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) - Federal prosecutors said Wednesday they will no longer seek to enforce a gag order on Connecticut librarians who received an FBI demand for records about library patrons under the Patriot Act.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which filed suit on behalf of the librarians, said it will identify them once court proceedings are completed in the next few weeks.

U.S. District Judge Janet Hall ruled last year that the gag order should be lifted, saying it unfairly prevented the librarians from participating in a debate over how the Patriot Act should be rewritten.

Prosecutors appealed, but U.S. Attorney Kevin O'Connor said Wednesday that the appeal no longer made sense. The librarian has already been identified in news reports and the
Patriot Act has been changed to include a procedure for requesting an exemption from the nondisclosure requirement, he said. Prosecutors have maintained that secrecy about demands for records is necessary to avoid alerting suspects and jeopardizing investigations. They contended the gag order prevented only the release of librarians' identities, not their ability to speak about the Patriot Act.

The change followed Congress' reauthorization of the Patriot Act, the ACLU noted. "Here is yet another example of how the Bush administration uses the guise of national security to play partisan politics," said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero. "The American public should keep this in mind the next time a government official invokes national security in defense of secrecy."

The Patriot Act, passed shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, allows expanded surveillance of terror suspects, increased use of material witness warrants to hold suspects incommunicado and secret proceedings in immigration cases. It also removed a requirement that any records sought in a terrorism investigation be those of someone under suspicion. Now, anyone's records can be obtained if the FBI considers them relevant to a terrorism or spying investigation. The FBI can issue national security letters without a judge's approval in terrorism and espionage cases. They require telephone companies, Internet service providers, banks, credit bureaus and others to produce highly personal records about customers or subscribers.

People who receive the letters are prohibited by law from disclosing to anyone that they did so.
The Washington Post and The New York Times have reported that the FBI issued a national security letter to George Christian, executive director of Library Connection, a Windsor, Conn.-based cooperative of 26 libraries that share an automated library system.

There was no immediate response Wednesday to a call seeking comment from Christian.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

ALA Blogger Round Table I was going to (and still will) post about the ALA Executive Board meeting this past weekend. But after getting food poisoning -- which kind of ruined Saturday night and most of Sunday -- I need some recovery time.

Last night I spoke to a Library School class at Southern Connecticut State University about both being a public library director and about ALA.

This morning I got thinking. ALA has a goal of being inclusive and offering a home to all in the profession. To create a Round Table in ALA takes "more than 100 members of the Association..." (Bylaws, Article VII)

Is there interest in starting a Bloggers Round Table? I am happy to help work to get the ALA part of the process started.

[For me, this is a little bit of a test to see what reach my blog has.]

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

On Making Introductions

I was thinking about introductions recently. Over the years, I have introduced a good number of speakers. Many were at Rotary Club meetings. Some were authors either at library events or at library association conferences. The one which stressed me the most (until very recently) was when I was President of the Connecticut Library Association (1999-2000).

At the CLA Conference 2000, there were two keynote speakers. The first was Jeffrey Steingarten, author of The Man Who Ate Everything. The other was John Updike. Imagine having to write and give an introduction to an author as prominent and famous as John Updike, and to know that the probable room-capacity crowd (about 400 of your nearest and dearest professional colleagues in the state) were waiting for him. I sweated over that introduction. I think I still have it on a disk somewhere. It was short and pithy. I did not learn of my reward until much later. After Updike spoke, he signed copies of his books. I purchased a copy of his then new novel, Gertrude and Claudius, the story of the action before the opening of the play Hamlet and a copy of the older Bech at Bay. I was the last in line, and he very graciously inscribed them for me. [He is a very quiet, unassuming man in person. Very easy to work with, and a true gentle man. I really enjoyed meeting him.]

The books came home with me, and lived for a while on my bedside table. I read Gertrude and Claudius first. It was new, it was in the news. After several months, I opened Bech at Bay. There inscribed was my pay day. Mr. Updike had written: "For Michael, my noble and eloquent introducer, John Updike." I will cherish it always!

Now to the current angst. Monday (past) was the launch of the "Week of the Young Child" in Bridgeport and the release of the draft of Bridgeport's Blueprint for Early Childhood. I have been working on this project including service on the editorial team. I was tapped to be the Master of Ceremonies for this event. That meant in the same event, I was to introduce the Mayor, the Congressman, the Superintendent of Schools, and the CEO of the local United Way, and the pre-school children of the local community college's lab school. In addition, I needed to ride herd on them (and the Governor's Special Assistant for Early Childhood) to keep the program on time, and not forget to introduce any of the City Council members, State Representatives, or State Senators. I am thankful that I took the time on Sunday night to sit down and write out an introduction for each of the speakers.

It went well, I guess. That's what folks have told me. We did not miss any of the politicians, the speakers all pretty much stuck to schedule, and we ended on time. [My trick, by the way, was to print out a skeleton schedule with times in 28 point type and leave it (in a page protector) on the podium with a clock which has one inch numbers. It seems that this subtle hint, plus the pre-work done by someone else, worked like a charm.]

Introductions. Does anybody really remember them? Yet at the same time, done badly, they will be talked about. Mine haven't been talked about, so that must mean something.

Monday, April 03, 2006

ALA Exec Board - Spring Meeting

It is that time again! Time for the face-to-face meeting of the ALA Executive Board in Chicago. The ALA Executive Board meets in person quarterly. Two of those meeting coincide with larger ALA meetings. The Exec Board also meets in the spring and fall. The fall meeting usually coincides with the fall meetings of the divisional executive boards, and whole group (division boards and the ALA EB get together for a session). The spring meeting is different, but part of the time is the annual ALA Staff Recognition event, which is very cool.

Here is my schedule for the end of this week. Thursday at some awful hour, I head to the airport to fly to Chicago. Arrival is scheduled for about 11 am. I serve on the Finance and Audit Committee of the Board and we are scheduled to meet from 1 to 6 pm with a likely pre-meeting for some confidential stuff. [While we are meeting the new ALA Exec Board members will be going through day 2 of orientation.] Often F&A goes to dinner together (since we do not see enough of each other [ha, ha].

Friday begins with the ALA Staff Recognition event. This includes awards for years of service. I was lucky that one of the early years included an award to Lois Ann Gregory-Wood, the Council Secretariat, who has been a great "inside" pal of mine for many years.

The afternoon will be the Board Effectiveness session. This helps the Board to focus on specific issues, it usually has a facilitator, and is an important session for developing our group dynamic.

The ALA Office of Information Technology Policy is having a retreat out at one of the O'Hare Airports, and a number of the Executive Board members will be joining them for dinner. (Some of us have talked about taking the "L" out there, since a.) we enjoy riding it; and b.) it is cheap ($1.75 each way). We'll see.

Saturday, we start at 9 am and have a full agenda including an executive session to discuss several confidential items (appointments, etc.). There will be a group dinner, somewhere on Saturday.

Sunday for me will begin with Mass at the Cathedral for the Chicago Archdiocese. It is Palm Sunday, and I can hardly skip. The Cathedral is about a block and a half from the ALA HQ. We begin at 9 am and start by hearing from the ALA Legal Counsel in closed session. At one point will meet as the ALA-APA Board of Directors. A new name for the organization is on that agenda. We end early afternoon (3 pm is the scheduled time) so that we can begin the exodus and trip home. For me that will mean "L" to O'Hare and flight back to Bradley Airport (Hartford), followed by the hour drive home.

It is jam-packed, early mornings, late nights. I usually come home pretty exhausted. I know Monday will be tough, but I also committed to speak to a Library Science class at SCSU, so I hope the adreniline kicks in!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Book Review: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Celebrate National Library Week!

Part of my celebration is to offer this very brief book review.

For those who visit the blog (rather than read through an aggregator), you'll see The Alchemist move from "Currently Reading" to "Recently Read."

So, why did I suddenly pick this book up? I had heard of it, and I was browsing the New Books section in the Popular Library in the Burroughs and Saden Memorial Public Library Building (where my office is located). The staff in Pop take new literally. This particular edition was a new copy of the 10th anniversary edition of the work.

The book has a very clear message about identifying and following your own personal legend (quest/mission). It also reminded me to be open to those new and unusual events which happen in life. I highly recommend it as an inspirational read.

Now, I don't know if it was the desert setting or the North African setting, or not, but as I thought about the book's message, I was reminded of one of my personal favorites from decades ago: Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. While learning and studying French in high school, I became fascinated by Saint-Exupery. I read most of his works in both English and French. [It was back when my reading ability in French was much better than it is today.] I also read a great deal about him and his mysterious disappearance during World War II. I have on my bookshelf today, the biography by Curtis Cate. [Antoine de Saint-Exupery: His Life and Times by Curtis Cate, Putnam, 1970. It is so old that the ISBN is not printed on it, if it had one!] The cover is great, and captures the spirit of the man.