Monday, December 21, 2009

Books 2009

A couple different people have posted (in varying places) asking for readers to submit their "best books" or "favorite books" of 2009. I looked over my list, and came up with this:

Coop: a year of poultry, pigs, and parenting by Michael Perry

In my couple years in Wisconsin, I had the opportunity to meet Michael Perry several times. He is a good writer, and gives a great view of that part of the world.

A Great and Godly Adventure: The Pilgrims and the myth of the first Thanksgiving by Godfrey Hodgson

It is slightly scholarly, but gives a more accurate picture of Thanksgiving

Wine Politics: How Governments, Environmentalists, Mobsters, and Critics Influence the Wines We Drink by Tyler Colman

An incredibly interesting book on the politics behind what so many of us drink.

American character : the curious life of Charles Fletcher Lummis and the rediscovery of the Southwest by Mark Thompson

Charles Lummis was the Director of the Los Angeles Public Library for five years just after the turn of the last century. He led a fascinating life!

The soul of a new machine by Tracy Kidder

In many ways, it brought back memories of my days growing up in Central Massachusetts, and my early computer experiences

Sneaker wars: the enemy brothers who founded Adidas and Puma and the family feud that forever changed the business of sports Barbara Smit

A very interesting book about the history of these two brands

My Life in France by Julia Child with Alex Prud'homme

I was inspired to read this by the great movie “Julie and Julia.”

As a newcomer to New Orleans, I would recommend these two titles which I read this year, the first is older.

Rising Tide: The great Mississippi flood of 1927 and how it changed America by John M. Barry

Nine lives : death and life in New Orleans by Dan Baum

I also have been listening to a lot of items here are a few I would recommend:

The irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British spy ring in wartime Washington by Jennet Conant, read by Simon Prebble

Dahl is now better known as an author of children’s literature, but he did a lot of work as a British spy in DC!

This just in by Bob Schieffer

An inside look at how the news gets reported – from a singular perspective

Fallen Founder: The life of Aaron Burr by Nancy Isenberg, read by Scott Brick

Most of Burr’s diaries and papers were lost at sea, so it was his enemies who wrote most of the history. This is a fascinating, well written look at one of the founders.

The Downhill Lie: A Hacker's Return to a Ruinous Sport by Carl Hiaasen, read by the author

This was just hysterical! And Hiaasen does a good job as narrator!

After the first of the year, I will still do my "clean-up" of the sidebar.

Links - End of December

Great article I picked up from Stephen Abram. He uses this stop light analogy to ask us (as librarians) to think about unintended consequences.
Cute picture here (from Boing Boing, I can't remember who pointed to it). It reminds me of the old TV show Green Acres!

You have to admire when someone admits that they do not do something as well as they think they should and points to a better example. David Lee King does this in talking about inviting comments.

And then there is the topic of Ebooks. First a set of predictions for 2010, then a free Ebook from Seth Godin.

One of my online/virtual friends is an academic library director (and happens to be at the undergraduate alma mater for one of my brothers and his wife -- SUNY Potsdam). She has an interesting post about "redecorating" a stairwell which was not originally part of the designed public space in the building. They let students do it! Graffiti as art! Way to go, Jenica!

The Unquiet Librarian (Buffy Hamilton) has a guest blog piece about "What makes a Library a Library?" It is good reading.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Social Media Policies

A while back, I posted about Twitter policies. That piece got some great comments, so I suggest that you read the whole thing.

Since then, I have found several additional resources and thoughts on the topic:

  • The CIO (Chief Information Officer) of a health care company [in central and northern Wisconsin] has posted a thoughtful compilation of his organizations thoughts and policies on his blog.
  • The Ottawa Public Library (Ottawa, Canada) has posted its full social media policy (as a PDF file).
  • The High Tech Dad blog has a great post on how to craft a policy. (Each point of the policy is short enough to be a Twitter post!)
  • Ellyssa Kroski (who also blogs at iLibrarian) has written an article for School Library Journal (October 1, 2009) which is still applicable to public libraries. I recommend it.
A great deal is happening in this area, and happening quickly. I hope to find more policies before long.

October/November/December Links

The Wall Street Journal article on the end of email certainly has generated comment both inside of and outside of the library community. I think that it overstates the case. I remember years ago having a discussion about "push vs. pull" of information. There are times when if it is not pushed to me (i.e. email), then I am likely to not get it or to act on it.

LibraryLaw Blog has some great info for librarians on the complexity of laws as they apply to us. There is a new-ish, but scary post which talks about the incredible narrowing of the meaning of educational fair use.

I haven't checked this out, but I trust the Librarian in Black implicitly. She wrote about how to back up data from some of the social networking sites.

I found this tip on how to keep Windows (or Windoze, as Mac fans used to write) from automatically rebooting when you don't want it to. [Note to self: Do this on your personal laptop!]

Dorothea Salo (formerly Caveat Lector, now Book of Trogool), has a great series on library thinking and terminology around organizing. The first was The Classical Librarian; the second was The Humble Index; the third was simply Classification; and the last (which is what caught my eye at last) was Classification and a Bit of Subject Analysis. All are well worth reading, and you should add her to your "usual list of subjects" if you are a librarian.

Interesting story in the Chicago Tribune which was posted to PUBLIB. Comments there ranged from decrying flagrant copyright violations to "just" infringement. Read the article, PUBLIB archives are here , posts are under "Chicago Tribune Article."

Other links floating around include an interesting article on getting past cut and paste, and getting students to think about the meaning of what they find on the web.

It is tough when technology changes faster than the rules, here are some thoughts on that.

This post is about smoking and where in the US it happens. But it is also an interesting way to to look at statistics and present them in some different ways.

From a more morbid perspective, what happens to your social networking accounts when you die? Here are some of the answers.

ALA now has the ability to do electronic petitions to run for office! I have signed one already. And in spite of what the Annoyed Librarian says (she says it was December 1 - and she is so wrong!), the deadline is January 29, 2010

In the most recent news, both Kirkus and Editor and Publisher are about to be defunct. Here is the announcement of the death of Kirkus, and a memorial.

More Seasonal/Weather reflections

I re-reading my last post, I realized that I had forgotten to mention another observation which is more related to the local weather conditions. This summer was a "dry" summer -- by local standards. Areas which were normally swampy/marshy were drying up.

Over the past few weeks it has rained a great deal. (To me if "feels" like the winter rainy season I remembered from my years in the desert of Tucson.) On Wednesday (that wonderfully warm and sunny day), there was a great deal of water in places that had been dry. There was water in the median (in the grassy areas, as well as on the bridges). It had turned into a wet world again.

The water went down over the course of the week. But last night it rained heavily at times, and pretty steadily over the course of the night. I expect to see that water again on Monday, since the weather forecasts are for more rain this weekend. (And yes, I much prefer rain to snow! Current temp [Sat, 8:30 am local time] 46....forecast, rain.)

Wednesday, December 09, 2009


A recent stauts update on Facebook commented that about 75% of the updates in the past day or so had to do with weather. That ties in well with a reflection I had this morning.

I was gone for the Thanksgiving holiday, and had only one day back doing the commute before I was again away and then off. Tuesday was a crappy weather day, warmish, but rainy and windy. Driving to work in the morning I leave in the dark, and going home is the same.

Today, because the sun was up (and out) for the last half of the commute, I saw some things which I had not noticed before. First was the leaves on the trees. There were some trees which had lost their leaves, and others with brown instead of green. The was the occasional swamp maple (with the emphasis on swamp!) with its red or red/brown leaves. It was the first time that I really began to believe that it is fall.

It is interesting how our perceptions of the seasons depend on these visual cues. The days have been getting shorter. (And don't start on the annual, pointless and useless time change fiasco...) But certainly sitting in my office, with its floor to ceiling windows looking out on the Spanish oaks with all their leaves, it does not feel much like fall! It took seeing the reds of the maples for me to (finally) realize that fall is here.

A final note about periodicity for this blog. You will see fewer posts, at least for a while. It is related to what is happening in my life. Most of it is good, and you will see conference posts when those seasons begin again (Midwinter, LLA, etc.)

Monday, October 12, 2009

The role of publishers and libraries

My friend Rory Litwin does an excellent, concise, and thoughtful analysis of the role of publishers. he links it to the role of libraries.

Rory is an interesting person, and knows both sides as a librarian in Duluth (MN) and as the owner(?) of Litwin Books LLC which publishes books and has as its imprint, Library Juice Press.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

End of September /early October links

Talking about "ownership," Helene Blowers has an interesting post on models of ownership as it relates to technology and devices

Academic library articles seemed to hit me a bit recently:
Jenica Rogers is the library director at SUNY-Potsdam, the alma mater of one of my brothers (and his charming wife). She has written about "who owns the [academic] library."

Involved Academic Library Administrator

Libraries of the future
I am going to link to Stephen Abram, excerpts of an interesting article on blogging in the public sector.

TechEssence has a great post of the Top 10 Things Library Administrators Should Know about Technology

There were two posts about OAI-ster (which I admit to only vaguely understanding). The first talks about OCLC taking over the UM project, the second is a slight (to my mind) clarification.

I read Dorothea Salvo for many reasons, including her cogent thoughts about the role of libraries in saving digital documents. I would characterize a recent post as being about meta-data even though she calls it "Classification."

I found a new blog --- The Banned Librarian -- interesting stuff.

On Twitter, I have been following the author of the blog "Getting Boys to Read." He has a good post about creating a vision for the library.

There have been lots of comments about the Massachusetts private school Cushing Academy and its plan to essentially disband its library. Lisa Gold and Andy from New Jersey's Burlington County Library both have interesting comments. Lisa's are titled "When I look at books..." (which is a quote from the Cushing Headmaster), and Andy's are called "Library Beyond Print."

Official ALA stuff:
PLA's Advocacy Kit is available, here is the note from the PLA blog.

They were called the "Young Turks" group to begin with, but are now Young Librarians. Participate as appropriate.
Food (always an important topic in New Orleans): Fried Chicken and Waffles?

For fun, and distraction.

Last Thursday (my birthday) I got this. (Thanks Megan)

I have written about some of my experiences with the American health care system (and won't link to them here). Karen Schneider has an insightful post about the current debate.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Next Transition -- Deja Vu

Today begins my next transition at work.

I started working at the State Library of Louisiana (SLOL) on December 1. I was hired to be a Library Consultant, and to be the State Data Coordinator (SDC). As the SDC, I got thrown right in to gathering the data for FY 2008 (in Louisiana, that is the same as the calendar year). It was fun! I had the opportunity to deal with every public library in Louisiana. The state data report has now been published.

A little more than a week ago, I was asked to take on some more responsibilities. The SLOL, like many state agencies in Louisiana [and across the country], had some budget challenges in the "new" fiscal year (for state government that is July 1 - June 30), and some positions were not funded and others lost.

One of those was the head of the Reference Department. I was asked to take on those responsibilities, in addition to my current ones of SDC and doing special projects like the Library Support Staff Certification Program (LSSCP) for which SLOL is one of the pilot sites.

So, I am back to middle management. Since July 2008, I have not been a supervisor. A part of me really likes that. In a way I am back to the same kind of position that I was in beginning in October 1982, when I became Librarian III at the then Tucson Public Library. I continued as a "middle manager" through my first stint at Bridgeport Public Library (April 1983 - April 1985). After that I was "the boss" until July 2008. (That is a quarter century for those counting.)

I have not worked a public service desk since I left Wilton in December 1994. I have a lot to learn -- again. I have some new staff to work with. And, we have a chance to fill a vacancy soon, so I get to start with someone new, too.

Life is full of changes. You never know what is next. [I also believe in "Never say 'Never!'"]

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Twitter Policies

At work, I received an interesting question "from the field." The question was about whether I could identify any libraries which had "policies" about a library tweeting. So I "tweeted" about it, and posted on my Facebook page. I did not get a lot of response. I did some searching and then sent queries to the two people whose name came up most often (at least on WebJunction): David Lee King and Michael Porter.

Here is one informal answer:
It really depends on the libs goals - do they want to focus on local peeps? Do they want to friend everyone? Etc.

That was from David Lee King (Topeka Kansas PL). He has a blog, and has posted some thoughts which you may find useful:

And in another blog I found this quote:
"With that said, here is my take at a corporate Twitter policy that has the extra added benefit of being itself twitterable: Our Twitter policy: Be professional, kind, discreet, authentic. Represent us well. Remember that you can’t control it once you hit "update."

I found this from a link somewhere, Missouri River Regional Library has a “MySpace Guidelines” but not one for Twitter. In them they say:
  • Friends Friends are subject to approval by the administrator
  • The Library reserves the right to approve or deny friends

Here is a link:

Finally, my friend Michael Porter (MP, Libraryman) who works at OCLC had this insightful thought:
I do though think that it would be wiser for a library to have a larger institutional communication policy rather than a policy specific to an individual tool like Twitter, facebook, freindfeed, etc. Those tools will wax and wane and have shifting levels of cultural relevancy, but a larger, carefully thought out staff communication policy would address the important issues that can come up on any of these tools. Granted it could be wise to have paragraphs, or subsections dealing with peculiarities of an individual tool, but really, I don't think making one for Twitter alone is the way to go.

So, that is a really long answer. I think that what MP suggests (an institutional communication policy like the one suggested on the Gruntled Employees blog) with "Procedures" or "Guidelines" which can be written, would be a good way to go. In my note back to MP, I said: As a Library Director, I always made the distinction that *policy* was adopted by the Board and should be fairly immutable. *Procedures* are about how staff implement the board approved policies…


I found some more info thanks to the Librarian In Black. She pointed to a blog called "Lowrider Librarian" which has some good Twitter tips including:


The organization should have a clear policy that addresses:
  • Appropriate language
  • Appropriateness of links provided
  • Non-political links and tweets
Tweet with the organizational mission in mind at all times

Individual vs. organizational Twitter® usage

The tweeters should understand they are representing the organization and that their personal viewpoints should never override information provided and should never dictate information shared or re-tweeted.

Assessment: How will the ROI be assessed? What will be considered successful? What are your benchmarks and how will you reach them?

Building community

Tweet organizational related material. Retweet information you know your network will appreciate. Do not argue, flame or use derogatory language when tweeting. Stay positive and friendly. Share, share, share. Be yourself and be genuine, but always remember you are a representative of the organization. Again, look for those who your organization can collaborate with and build off one another’s work. Cross—promotional opportunities abound in the world of Twitter® .
Thanks Sarah!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009


The Google settlement, from a Brit's perspective.

The CNN story and reactions:
  • This piece does not take our side, but at the same time lashes out at CNN

And Cushing Academy takes a hit:
  • Jessamyn is always one of my favorites, and as always she has some stellar links here
  • Nicholas Brisbanes notes that most likely the library staff were not consulted in an interesting piece
Three other random links:
  1. Five Most Common Mistakes Made by Nonprofit Admins on Facebook
  2. Mindset List for Librarians (parody of the Beloit College list aimed at librarians)
  3. The Gospel of Good Enough from the thoughtful Jason Griffey which talks some more (and has links) to ideas presented at ALA this summer.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Links, links, links, links....

Happy 10th birthday Blogger!

  • For those of us who have trouble on Mondays!
  • A newly named inherent behavior: Seeking [from Slate]
  • More than just death by PowerPoint, this talks about what the errors/problems are
Here is a "two-fer:" first it talks about the positive impact of high-speed [broadband] access on rural areas. But then I looked at the map which shows number of broadband providers. When I look at a map like this, I often focus on the places that I know about (mostly where I have lived). So, for example in both most of northern Maine, and in a tiny swatch of southern Arizona there are no providers. Well, a lot of that northern Maine is woods! I have canoed through some of that territory, there are really no roads, and only the hardiest of people. The southern Arizona piece is more problematic, but it sure looks to me like it is the reservation which is just to the west (and slightly south) of Tucson. When I lived there it was the Papago Reservation, but it is now called Tohono O'odham.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Links from around the web - later in August

First is Louisville: I had forgotten that I know the library director there, Craig Buthold. We served on a PLA Committee many, many years ago. More recently I have been in contact with Greg Schwartz, fellow Brown U alumnus.

Steve Lawson has taken the lead with this well written post and offer of funds.

More random stuff:

Library Journal needs to understand

Much more about blogging and their audience.

First of all, the typeface on their web pages is way too small. It looks like about 7 point type, and then, there is no way to enlarge it!

Second, the site is so ad heavy that it takes forever to load.

Third, their linking! If you are on a page where in the right (well, actual, middle because there is the column of ads) and click on one of the "Recent Posts," where do you go? To a whole page of brief announcements of the recent posts, and the one you clicked on may or may not be visible! If you want to read the whole post, you have to click AGAIN!

Then, for the longer blogs (Blatant Berry, Annoyed Librarian) only the first sentence or so will show up in your blog feed reader. (It might even be 140 characters, I have never bothered to count.)

If it weren't so important to my professional life, I would never go there!

[And that loading page has been loading the whole time I have been typing this!]

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Links from around the web

  • An interesting article from PW about the Google Book Search Settlement and a panel discussion at New York Public Library
  • When you "buy" a download, can you keep it forever? Some think not. Here is an article from boingboing on the topic.
Stephen Abram is always thoughtful. I had saved two posts from him:
  1. Streaming video is displacing DVDs
    But I wonder where does that leave the majority in Louisiana who do not have Internet at home?
  2. He also has some cogent thoughts on Bing and Yahoo (As he suggests, I have started using Bing.)
More posts
  • I picked this up off PUBLIB, where the poster noted that this conservative paper generally is against any taxes and increases in public spending, but does support public libraries. It is an interesting article.
  • I am a little disappointed that I did not make the Top 100 list, and I have some quibbles, like not being in the top 5! But there are some other obviously good choices. There were even a few I had not followed/found.
That's it for now!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The future: music, film, print

I wish I were as cogent a thinker and as eloquent a writer as Walt Crawford. His most recent post is called Five years on. In it he offers his opinion (with which wholeheartedly agree) about the future of music, film, and the various print products of today.

It is worth reading.

One night -- Two #FAIL

Last night I came home from work. The gas utility company (Entergy) which has now dug up part of the parking in front of the house twice, for a week or more each time, since May, had filled in the hole. I heated some left-overs in the microwave. Then I went to do some cleaning. Now, in New Orleans, the house is raised above the ground, and the hot (and cold) water pipes run under the house with no insulation. To get hot water, you have to let it run a bit. Well, it ran, and did not get hot. It ran some more, still not hot. So, I checked the water heater (outside, in a little shed attached, and sitting on a slab), and tried to re-light it. It would not light. On a whim, I tried the (gas) stove. It does not light. Called the utility. About 90 minutes later someone shows up, looks at the meter -- ours is off, our next door neighbor's is on [we live in a "shotgun double," aka a duplex]. Why? He doesn't know. He tests the stove and lights the water heater.

Meanwhile, I tweet it. It shows up as a status update in Facebook. First time it happens to me. I tweet that. I got some suggestions, tweaked the settings, and it happens again. (But not any of the RT messages or @ messages!) This morning I find the answer.

So, #FAIL to Entergy, and #FAIL to Facebook (again).

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Nicholson Baker, on my side?

A longtime library gad-fly, Nicholson Baker has an article in the August 3, 2009 issue of The New Yorker. It is about his experiences with the Kindle.

I guess, this is sort of a continuation of the attitude which earned him my personal disdain from back in the mid-1990s. He started with his blasting libraries for getting rid of card catalogs [abstract only...go to your paper copy (grin) of The New Yorker for April 4, 1994 - page 64 - or register on the site.] He followed it up with an "exposé" of the then new San Francisco Public Library. In the latter he found that [no, I was not shocked] that there were more books listed in the card catalog than in the online catalog. Apparently, he never thought about those books which never return, and when most libraries automated, they barcoded/entered items from the shelf rather than from the usually inaccurate shelf list.

Well, back to the present....He gives the Kindle a fair shot. He notes a number of shortcomings, some are technological (grayness of the screen, only one typeface available) and other are part of a bigger issue for libraries (and consumers) like the digital rights management issues. (Kindle books can be read only on the Kindle you used to purchase the book.) He even tested the reader function (I guess he got an early one), and the new Kindle DX. In spite of my prior issues with Mr. Baker, I think he has provided an interesting perspective here.

My friend and fellow netizen Michael Sauers has a much more succinct comment today also.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Censorship and ALA program in Chicago

It really annoys me when folks who have absolutely no clue about how the American Library Association operates, leap to conclusions, and mis-state what happened.

My issues start with the Annoyed Librarian (who at least professes to be a librarian and an ALA member at an academic institution). The good thing about AL, is that he/she actually states most of the facts fairly correctly. And he/she is correct that "I doubt the ALA or the ALA Council will have much to say about this." But for the reason he/she is wrong.

First, this was a program organized and sponsored by a Round Table. Round Tables (as units within ALA) are among the looser of the kinds of units. They have no ability to speak for the organization, and at best can get ALA Council to act by getting the Round Table Councilor (or another of their members) to bring it up.

Second, the main reason why Council did not act is that there was nothing to do! What can you do if you invite a panel of people, and suddenly all but one quit! You no longer have a panel! (A panel of one?) What to do? I think the Round Table did the right thing and canceled the program.

The charges by folks like Steven Emerson are ridiculous. An ALA unit (part of a professional organization) is supposed to replace a panel discussion with a presentation by a single individual? I think not!

Then there is Dan Kleinman who runs a web site and blog alleging to be "Safe Libraries" but who has been on a long campaign against freedom of speech in public libraries. In his blog, he shows his complete lack of understanding about conferences and how they are organized by challenging "the ALA to include Robert Spencer in next year's panel."

[Side note: In the library world you can usually tell when someone does not like or understand ALA because it is "the ALA" rather than just "ALA" for me it is a red flag -- almost every time!]

What is most interesting is that the speaker who did not cancel has written a much more even handed treatment of the incident. While Robert Spencer does not explicitly accuse ALA of censorship, he does take a little jab. It seems that he is more interested in being heard than in denigrating an organization which actually invited him to speak.

Monday, July 27, 2009


This one is personal. If you don't care, this is time to move along.

I chatted with my eldest son tonight because it is his 29th birthday. I guess I am feeling old. Along with my younger son's 25th (on the same day as this blog's 4th anniversary), it sure seems that time is flying by.

On the other hand, it was great to see a bunch of blogger friends at the Blog Salon in Chicago this year.

A simple reflection after an "adult beverage."

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Web, meida delivery and blogging

There has been a confluence of the above topics in not just the tweets I get, or the blogs I real, or even the email I get.

I am on the routing list for Publishers Weekly, and recently read the May 18, 2009 issue which has the interview with Chris Anderson by Andrew Albanese (who has written for Library Journal). This was to highlight Chris Anderson's new book Free: The Future of a Radical Price. It is an interesting interview, and I recommend it. At the same time I have a link to Financial Times piece which says "most news websites will charge within a year." It is my memory that the New York Times tried this in the early days, and it failed big time. I know that I don't even like to register to read news, I think that this is a big old FAIL.

On the other hand, Casey Bisson expresses some interesting thoughts in dissecting the old business model of the newspaper business. It is headlined: "Newspaper Business: News was a loss leader!" He talks about trying to monetize the newspaper business, and goes to argue that the Financial Times editor is probably wrong.

Roy Tenant takes the position that print is not dead, in a (usual for him) well-written piece. [He tweeted the other day that there were no comments, I see that there are now seven (7), but make him happy and comment!]

He earlier had a great post on social media pitfalls, and cites the Clinical Reader incident which Iris Jastram covered very completely (and he did not mention...)

Finally, there has been an interesting conversation started by Meredith Farkas called: "W(h)ither blogging and the library blogosphere?" Meredith has been a blogging hero to me, I started reading her blog quite a long while before I started blogging myself. (And I have even had a chance to meet her in person at ALA Annual!) Her comments are cogent, and as interesting has been the conversation on Friend Feed. [Addition 7/23 8:30 am: I should have also noted Iris Jastram's thoughtful piece about the ebb and flow of online social interaction using various tools.]

Sunday, July 19, 2009

ALA Annual Round-up

I am back, safely, and with only one snafu (which will remain unnamed, since it was my own fault). And thanks to Aaron Dobbs who got me from the Convention Center to my hotel to O'Hare in time to catch my plane.

If you follow ALA "stuff" you may find this site interesting: ala2009 @ flexyourinfo

Heather Devine has created a site which tracks both the Twitter feeds with #ala2009 and the Flickr photos with a similar tag. So you can see the events and read the short messages about them also. Thanks Heather.

She also has a thoughtful post on her blog about the ALA Doctoral Options Fair.

My friend Jessamyn did not go, but captured several links to events.

Fellow Councilor-at-Large Jim Casey has been doing an excellent summary of his activities for many years. Each year it seems that he finishes it sooner and sooner. He posted it to the Council list, but John Chrastka posted it on the ALA Member Blog.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Leadership and Candor

I picked up on a tweet from Amy Harmon who said: "We can handle the truth even if its bad. ... What our profession needs: a culture of candor." It had a link to this article from the Harvard Business Review.

There is a section towards the end which jumped out at me:
Leaders are far likelier to make mistakes when they act on too little information than when they wait to learn more. But Blake and Mouton went deeper, demonstrating that the pilots’ habitual style of interacting with their crews determined whether crew members would provide them with essential information during an in-air crisis. The pilots who’d made the right choices routinely had open exchanges with their crew members. The study also showed that crew members who had regularly worked with the “decisive” pilots were unwilling to intervene—even when they had information that might save the plane.
Wow...that is huge. I am pleased that I can say that my "boss," the State Librarian, here has been candid about the legislative issues related to funding for libraries in Louisiana. When I was a boss, I tried to act that way. I am now being reminded that it is easier to work for someone who acts that way, even when the news is bad.

Fortunately for libraries in Louisiana, while there have been some funding reductions, the State Library is not laying off any staff, and the other cuts are much less drastic than they are in many states (Ohio, California, and Connecticut come to my mind.)

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Links and comments

ALA is coming up at the end of the week. Time to clean off the desk -- actual and virtual!

What counts as "broadband?" Jeff Scott has a good analysis with comments about this. His comment that defining it as one-half of a T-1 line is short-sighted, is insightful. Louisiana was one of the first states to have Internet available to the public in every "main" library in the state. Many are finding that the bandwidth currently provided is not adequate. Many libraries here, and elsewhere I assume, were hoping that the stimulus funding would help them improve network speed. This seems not to be the case.

Annette Day and Hilary Davis have an interesting article about the process of journal selection (and de-selection) for academic libraries in a group blog which I have only recently found: In the Library with a Lead Pipe.

Meredith Farkas is back and continues to be insightful and probably ahead of her time. She talks in a recent post about relying on free/web-based services to deliver critical functions. Her post makes me also think about how is our discussion about things like Library 2.0/Web 2.0 being stored for the future. We can read about the late 19th discussions on the pros and cons of public libraries collecting and circulating fiction because those discussions took place in print. Will library scholars of the end of this century be able to do the same for our discussions? (I'm also going to point to a related/similar discussion imbedded in Walt Crawford's August (?) Cites and Insights. I am sure, since I was reading it in the doctor's office yesterday, that his "Writing about Reading" has influenced my thoughts on Meredith's post.)

I am watching the Google OS situation somewhat closely, in part because we are considering purchasing a "netbook" for our regular travel.

Finally, is my new work love: statistics. In a short (3 minute) TED talk, mathematician Arthur Benjamin talks about the need to redefine the teaching of mathematics. Currently, calculus is the "holy grail" or highest level. He notes that most of us do not use calculus in our daily lives. (Engineers are exempt from this characterization.) However, if everyone had a better understanding of statistics, a lot of us would do better in life.

The link is above....I will try to embed it here:

Happy Blog Anniversary

A recent post from Stephen Abram reminded me that I started this blog four years ago, upon my return from ALA in Chicago.

I started on July 6, 2005, my younger son's 21th birthday. He is now 25, this blog is 4.

This is also post #400! So that is an average of 100 posts per year, or just under 2 posts per week (for those who pay attention to that kind of statistics). This is not a high comment blog, and I suspect that most of you are reading this through a feed aggregator of some sort. The site counter (from 10/31/2005) says over 40,000 hits. According to Google Analytics, 40% are referred from other sites, 40% are from search engine searches, and 20% are direct traffic.

You will see more blogging soon, from ALA.

Friday, July 03, 2009

More Links

I am trying to clean up...and lost stuff...stupid wireless connection. Anyway, this is what you get!

Five tips for a Better ALA Conference Experience from one of ALA's largest divisions

Getting Virtual: ALA Works to Increase Electronic Member Participation

Broadband, Internet access, etc.
Elderly, poor narrow broadband service gap from the AP

Home Broadband Adoption a Pew Study

Lower Broadband Prices -- but only if there is competition

Stimulus rules are out -- are the easily understood?

Open Access, Copyright, Intellectual Property (IP)
Elsevier is lobbying against Open Access [OK, who is surprised?]

File sharing and Copyright from LIS News -- read the report which is a PDF linked from this
Are Books Dead?
The short answer here is "NO" but you should read the long discussion.

But the Canadian National Archives thinks "MAYBE" since they have stopped buying paper.

Miscellaneous Internet issues
Google antitrust issues

Anonymity on the web -- or not!

Hate speechin the US as opposed to the rest of the world

Don't moon people with cameras (or at least hide your face when you do) -- humor, but with an important point

Search and find magazine articles on Google Book Search (from the source)

Taxes and the Internet: Amazon drops partners to avoid state sales taxes
Truly Miscellaneous
Shut up! Announcing your plans makes you less motivated to accomplish them.

PowerPoint Animations are information killers -- I feel vindicated!

Gender gap continues in the computer world -- even if not in libraries, or is it a reverse gap for us.

Humor, from Robert Benchley -- How to get things done despite procrastination
The BIG picture
Is there a "too big to fail" in the book/library world?

Widening generation gap (from; original Pew study here

How teens use media is different than how "we" do (Neilsen study)

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Read and Listened to: January - June 2009

This version of my sidebar clean-up is different than in the past. With my new job and commute, I am listening to a large number of books on CD. Two notes:
  1. These are listed in reverse chronological order (since that is how I move them around on the sidebar.
  2. I am leaving the list on the sidebar for another week or two (to remind me of the formatting!).
So first, here are the books I have read in the last six months.

Coop: a year of poultry, pigs, and parenting by Michael Perry

Maximum Ride: The final warning [The Protectors 1] by James Patterson

Frenchmen, Desire, Good Children, and other streets of New Orleans by John Churchill Chase

The soul of a new machine by Tracy Kidder

Sneaker wars: the enemy brothers who founded Adidas and Puma and the family feud that forever changed the business of sports Barbara Smit

Rising Tide: The great Mississippi flood of 1927 and how it changed America by John M. Barry

Smart & Caring: A Donor's Guide to Major Gifting by Richard & Linda Livingston with contributions by Kathleen Hammond & William Rogers

Nine lives : death and life in New Orleans by Dan Baum

Bonk: The curious coupling of science and sex by Mary Roach

A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines

The Sand Castle by Rita Mae Brown

The Curse of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz

The View from Saturday by E. L. Konigburg 1996 Newbery Award winner

American character : the curious life of Charles Fletcher Lummis and the rediscovery of the Southwest by Mark Thompson

Swim the Fly by Don Calame [Advance Reader Copy]

Book of the dead by Patricia Cornwell

Control of Nature by John McPhee

Dead heat by Dick Francis and Felix Francis

7 Measures of Success: What Remarkable Associations Do That Others Don't by American Society of Association Executives

Are You There Vodka, It's Me Chelsea by Chelsea Handler

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg

Wine Politics: How Governments, Environmentalists, Mobsters, and Critics Influence the Wines We Drink by Tyler Colman

A Great and Godly Adventure: The Pilgrims and the myth of the first Thanksgiving by Godfrey Hodgson

And here are the books I have listened to:
Jeff Shaara's Civil War battlefields:discovering America's hallowed ground by Jeff Shaara, read by Robertson Dean

The great hurricane--1938 by Cherie Burns, read by Anna Fields

A summons to Memphis by Peter Taylor, read by Boyd Gaines

The broken window: a Lincoln Rhyme novel by Jeffery Deaver, read by George Guidall

Look homeward, angel by Thomas Wolfe by Scott Sowers

Brother Ray by Ray Charles and David Ritz, read by Andrew L. Barnes

The complete stories of Dorothy Parker edited by Colleen Breese, read by Barbara Rosenblat

Eyewitness. 1970-1979 commentary by Joanna Bourke ; presented by Tim Pigott-Smith [Very Britain centered!]

Watch your back!: a Dortmunder novel by Donald E. Westlake, read by William Dufris

Liberty: a Lake Wobegon novel by Garrison Keillor, read by the author

Doesn't she look natural? by Angela Hunt, read by Carol Monda

Traffic by Tom Vanderbilt, read by Marc Cashman

When you are engulfed in flames by David Sedaris read by the author

Fallen Founder: The life of Aaron Burr by Nancy Isenberg, read by Scott Brick

Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, read by Dana Ivey

An arsonist's guide to writers' homes in New England: a novel by Brock Clarke read by Daniel Passer

The worst-case scenario survival handbook. Work by Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht, read by Jeff Woodman

It!: 9 secrets of the rich and famous that will take you to the top by Paula Froelich, read by Anna Fields

Curiosity killed the cat sitter by Blaize Clement, read by by Julia Gibson

Farewell, my Subaru: an epic adventure in local living by Doug Fine, read by the author

Tomato Girl by Jayne Pupek, read by by Julia Gibson

I am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe, read by Dylan Baker [25 CDs!]

Double Shot by Diane Mott Davidson, read by Barbara Rosenblat

Mr. Paradise by Elmore Leonard, read by Robert Forster

Hillbilly Gothic by Adrienne Martini, read by Christina Moore

Love, Lies and Liquor: An Agatha Raisin Mystery[sic] by M. C. Beaton read by Donada Peters

The Downhill Lie: A Hacker's Return to a Ruinous Sport by Carl Hiaasen read by the author, unabridged

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott [audiobook on CD/MP3]

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

LJ Webcast -- Fail

Have you successfully gotten an LJ Webcast? I signed up for one, went through the test that the site suggested, was told that I am fine and set up. But I cannot get sound. A bunch of PowerPoint slides are nice, but with effective slides (which is what I have seen for two events), you need to hear the talking!

Their web site has no contact for technical problems. The web regsitration has no info. Even the "partner" site providing the software/hosting has no tech contact info. You can "Contact a Solutions Expert" which sure looks like signing up for a sales call to me!

Library Journal Webcasts = FAIL

(And even their web site sucks. Very small print for the articles/blogs which you cannot enlarge, very, very long load times, and the RSS feeds only send a limited number of characters, not the full blog entry!)

Links - Week of June 15

One-Third of U.S. Doesn’t Have Broadband
This is a big issue for the US. It also reports "3 percent of Internet subscribers say broadband is not available in their area."

And in the same vein, Free broadband won't entice all It is a British source (BBC), but these two quotes jumped out at me:
"Some 42% of adults said that they had no interest or need for the internet. This so-called self-excluded group tended to be older or retired, with 61% confessing to never having used a computer."
"For 30% of those currently offline the main reasons given for that choice was financial or lack of skills."

I have been reading Nicole Engard for several years now, she had two great posts recently:
Librarians as Writers
Phonebook on Facebook

ALA Council has been talking about standards for accreditation off and on for several years. At Midwinter, we passed competences for librarianship, and also sent to the Executive Board a document requesting revisions in the accreditation rules. It is only recently that library educators have sat up to take notice of what was passed, and for some reason, are upset. (Why weren't they upset when a public library director said that he would note hire an LIS grad from his state's flagship university -- and ALA accredited program -- because they did not know enough about libraries!) Here is where you can read and comment about the standards revisions.

I also read Roy Tenant (in print and electronically). He has some interesting comments on Google's new service.

I don't blog anonymously, but there are those who are anonymous/pseudonymous. Here is an interesting controversy in the law library world. And here is another take.

Every once in a while I hear the old story about how Texas could decide to become five (5) states if they want. (Which while it is technically true it is unlikely.) This article talks about another way to "break up" the US (and they call it: devolution).

Whither file sharing, and will the RIAA and music industry ever learn? An old case resurfaces.

Here is an interesting search engine which focuses on credibility, using librarians!!

Good budget news from NYC: Speaker Quinn and Mayor Bloomberg Announce Budget Agreement Council restorations preserve funding for firehouses, 6-day library service and ACS case workers
And in the press release, libraries come ahead of the firefighters!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

ALA Council -- What's up?

Here we are, about a month away from the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago. [I consciously chose not to link. I hate the way ALA Conference web sites are set up.]

The ALA Council list has been incredibly quiet, and free of content.

Interestingly the two most recent "hot topics" were about whether documents would be posted to the Council list or we had to go to ALA Connect to find them and a discussion about loyalty oaths brought about when a councilor found a 1950s era resolution on the topic.

[Geezer alert] I remember the day when the Council list [ALACOUN] was a very high traffic list with lots of posts and discussion of issues being raised before coming to the floor of Council. That has changed dramatically. I am unsure of the reason why, but I have a "gut feeling" that some of it has to do with the shorter terms. One point that proponents of shorter terms made was about having an opportunity for "new blood." Well, it seems we have had that, and the folks now elected are not nearly as vocal as those in the past.

Some of you who read this are my constituents (since I am a Councilor-at-Large). I welcome, indeed solicit, input. I will continue to speak out when I feel a need, but if there are burning issues, let me know.

Monday, June 08, 2009

ALA Calendar

Here is my attempt at inserting my ALA calendar using Google Calendar.

The only info in here is my ALA Schedule from July 10 - 15. It is (of course) still subject to revision.

Update 6/9: revised to actually work....I hope.

Sunday, June 07, 2009


My father died thirty four years ago next July 15. My mother died last April.

So, there are legacies and there are legacies. One is the money one. My youngest brother has been the executor for my mom's estate which will be settled a little more than a year after her death. (That is not bad for Connecticut.)

When my dad died, he had been working for an insurance agency. He had a good amount of insurance which helped support many of my siblings with their college educations. (That is what he intended.) Since he died six weeks after my undergrad was done (and we even had a ceremony in his hospital room in Boston), I did not necessarily benefit. Of the eight of us, six have undergrad degrees, and three of us have a masters, with two of us with two masters. (When you factor in that of the eight of us, only three of us attended only one undergrad colleges, the numbers multiply. It was so much that my mother at one time said "Only stickers from where I went and where people are currently attending can go on the car windows! )

When I started college, my mother went back to work. After college was over for my youngest sibling, my mother used the remaining funds, along with what she earned, and what she had inherited from her in-laws and her parents to both live and to travel the world. She had great stories, adventures, photos, and souvenirs. Hey, she raised eight children, she deserved it! She always said "Don't count on any money, I plan to spend it all!"

My youngest brother, who had lived with my mother for several years, served as the executor of my mother's estate. I cannot have been easy. If my mother had died three years earlier, it would have been my job to deal with the issues.

This week I got my share of the estate. You know what? My mom came close to spending it all.

She had a good life. She made the world a better place. The town she lives in has already named a place after her (a vernal pool which the USGS has accepted). There are books in the local public library in her name (appropriate for younger Girl Scouts, a love of my mom).

So what have been their legacies (my mom and dad)?

Well, let's take a look. Eight children: one librarian (me), four teachers/non-profit workers (Peter, Sue, Beth, Helen), one entrepreneur in the environment (Paul), two managers (Meg, Thomas). There are almost nineteen grandchildren. Over half of them have already graduated from college. Some work in the non-profit sphere. Many of the ones who do not commit some of their time to non-profit efforts. The grandchildren include three Eagle Scouts (so far -- Jason is only 10-ish). Many of the girls have been Girl Scouts.

Money? Well, some of us are working with the local Community College to establish a scholarship fund in my mother's name, to allow a deserving student to continue education in Early Childhood Studies. Isn't that a legacy? In addition to whatever else happens.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Links and miscellany

Most recently, I have been collecting interesting links from both Twitter and my Bloglines account. I have gotten into the habit of just leaving the link open in a tab in my browser. Well, it is time to clean up again. Some of the titles are self-evident, but I have added comments to some of them.

And now in categories!

Bringing Broadband to Rural America (the official FCC report)

Broadband Nation. A new blog about broadband issues.

Bringing in Broadband. The issues in one Florida county.

Mapping Broadband. This person/organization may well not be a friend for libraries.

Lobbying the FCC for access and no caps.
New technology and Web 2.0

Paper Highlights Pros and Cons of Twittering at Academic Conferences

"librarians express affection through information"

Resolving the 80/20 dilemma "End users are spending less time on gathering the information they need – but their search failure rate is going up." A great article of importance to all librarians, but this one is focused on special/corporate libraries.

Technological accommodation of conflicts between freedom of expression and DRM: the first empirical assessment This links to a much longer PDF file on the Cambridge University web site

Search is too important to leave to one company – even Google Cory Doctorow in the Guardian

Study: Unselfish Individuals Benefit in Social Networks

9 simple suggestions for using social media

Twitter in the workplace. This is a presentation for government leaders on the use of Twitter.

Intellectual Property issues (IP)
IP rights and the Blind The US, Canada, and the EU try to limit the rights of blind people to use technology to receive written material -- Cory Doctorow on Boing Boing

IP: File sharing and Copyright. I have not read the full article (a link to the PDF is here), but the summary presents the intellectual property issues in file sharing in a new light. (Hmmm, maybe a full post is coming.)

Publishers are trying to avoid the Music industry's mistakes.

All Dressed Up with Nowhere to Go: A Survey of ALA Emerging Leaders

General Library stuff:
Mommy haven takes a hit in down economy

How to love your library

The 'M' word always has good stuff about library marketing. Nancy Dowd does a good job, this one is on the future of the media we will need to deal with. {Memo to grammar caucus fans...I did that on purpose.}

Darien Library's new brand image was picked up from John Blyberg. Check out the other clients here.

Job seekers at the library. While this is not new, there are some interesting statistics at the end. I also have to comment that when I first looked at this site, I thought I was at which is the site for the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Freemium A new way of thinking about library services and charging for them.

The Big Picture
Google takes on Amazon from the New York Times...and it is only for e-books.

Communicating a message. An interesting re-post from Stephen Abram on the differences that the wording of a message can make.
Free Range Librarian on where she is in her life and in her blogging life. It is actually a little similar to where I am.

Hot flashes -- a new perspective I found this one absolutely fascinating.

Want. Need I say more?

The rise and fall of LSU. I am not completely sure of the author's credentials, but it certainly is an interesting perspective on the positioning of state universities within the state power structure.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Silk Purses and Sows Ears? Assessing the Quality of Public Library Statistics and Making the Most of Them: PLA Spring Symposium 2009 - Morning I

The program began with an introduction by Joe Matthews. He went over the handouts (in paper) and reviewed the agenda review. He reminded ups that the only dumb question is the unasked one.

Is is possible to develop a "library goodness scale?"

What is good, what is a great library? This is an interesting challenge to define.

In a library organization management’s responsibilities are:

defining goals;

  • obtaining the needed resources;
  • identifying programs and services to reach the goals;
  • and using the resources wisely.

There are benefits and challenges: lots of performance measures -- most libraries have too many which are never used. (You have the authority to stop collecting data if it is not being used.)

A very important concept is "You get what you measure." He cited an example of police performance measurement. As a result of the measure used (minor quality of life issues) the community had man cops reporting pot holes – including the same pot holes day after day. The measure, reports filed, was incredibly high. The solving of crimes was not. As managers we need to refine the performance measurement system to reflect what you want.

Benefits and challenges: role of evaluation not to prove but to improve; provides feedback on actual performance; develops a culture of assessment. When data is disconfirming, report is often ignored rather than addressing the issue raised.

Efficiency & Effectiveness

Efficiency is the internal perspective: are we doing things right? Effectiveness is the external perspective: are we doing the right things? It is an important distinction.

The Library-centered view: how much, how many, how economical, how prompt?

Types of measures: Leading v. lagging: circ is lagging, what you did last month; historic data.

Leading is something that lets you forecast demand: pre-registration figures. In Joe’s opinion there is no relationship between inputs and outputs in libraries!

Leading indicator at reference: Very few libraries use reference data they have to change the staffing pattern at the reference desk. There is no leading data for reference may be the number of Google searches that month. He quoted OCLC Perception data on use of library reference as first source 3% of the time. You can forecast from past data trending. Should change staffing pattern, should get rid of reference questions....

A leading indicator could be a "high holds list" for items on order; another could be the school district calendar for staffing the reference desk.

Question on interpreting data when users asked what they want. Triangulation, partly asking what they want, customer satisfaction data, focus groups.

Measures need to be: SMART: Specific (accurate), Measurable, Action oriented, Relevant (clear), Timely

It is also important to review the data, and how it is collected and reported. In one library, the gate count suddenly doubled. When a manager went to check the manager discovered that there was a new staff member reporting it – the gate counted both those entering and exiting, and the former staff member correctly reported ½ of the number as the attendance. The new staff member did not.

Why do we use the data? There are several reasons: to help understand demand; to demonstrate accountability; to help focus; to improve services; to move from opinions to use of data, more responsive to customer needs; communicate value.

When we collect data we make some assumptions. For instance comparability (why does 3-week book count the same as 2-day DVD) [Joe also made an argument to not include renewals as part of circulation]; accuracy [how to count reference? ticks or argues to use gate count as an indicator; also argued for sampling--demonstrated busy-ness, need to demonstrate value] blow up reference desks....get rid of them.

Performance -- often bunch of numbers and no historical context, last 2-3 years of data.

Problem is failure to keep pace with ever rising expectations.

Larry Nash White presented next on the Library Quality Assessment Environment

He noted that he was raised by grandfather who was an efficiency expert.

Performance person in the library actually knows more about what is going on in the library. Statistics and metrics are like tight fitting clothes, they are suggestive, but not completely revealing.

History helps tells us where we have been. Most of what we measure we stole from somewhere else.

We have measured parts, how do we measure the whole. In 1934 Rider developed a way to maximize efficiency using costs. "If we don't assess things and do it correctly, then others from outside of the library will come and do it for us." (Rider 1934) About 100 library systems around the country are run by an outsourced firm (LSSI and others).

Google in 9 hours answers as many reference questions as all libraries in the US in 2006.

1939 was first customer service survey. 50s and 60s saw the quantitative crunch. Smile ratio as a measure? Especially when there are more smiles on the other side of the counter.

What is happening today? What are the influencing factors?

How many have enough resources (money, time, staff)? No one. [Great story about Santiago, Chile library. Single building of 275,000 square feet, 75 staff, 75,000 items to serve a city of over 5 million from one building.]

Increasing stakeholder involvement is important. When you want to keep your stakeholders out, that is a bad sign. They bring in own perceptions, biases, etc. which you must work with.

Technology is neutral, it is intent which the value. How we use it to deliver service it is made good or bad. How effective is our technology service. Total cost of ownership studies. Anti-tick marks. Use technology to count wherever possible. Use automation system to count computer use, reference questions, directional questions. An ILS is really good at counting. Can do location by location and hour by hour.

We are always borrowing from someone else. Libraries are using what business world gave up years ago. And they are tools that were often designed for something else.

Time is affecting what we do.

More quantitative data is wanted by stakeholder, more qualitative data is wanted by profession. This is a tension/division.

A wider scope is needed to assess and improve the process. Dynamic alignment: held up knotted string, not a macramé -- used as an analogy for our performance assessment environment (not much give). Do you have the right things in place, counting the right things and giving the right answer. (Pulled in the right way, and it became a single string.) When we align our assessment we need to continually align because of the changes in the environment.

Future predictions

  • More assessment.
  • More quantitative data to support quality outcomes
  • More intangible assessment. (Many things we do are intangible, and are important.) What would it look like if we started reporting the air.
  • More assessment of organizational knowledge
  • More assessment of staff knowledge (human capital) are we effectively assessing the use of that resource.
  • Increased alignment of assessment process.
  • [Intellectual capital. Human capital -- what people know. Structural value -- what is left when people go home. Value of the relationships: stakeholders, vendors, partners.] Report the value created. Wherever we spend money we need to report the value of what we do.

Ray Lyons then talked about Input-Process-Output Outcomes Models

IMLS has now embraced the United Way’s language. But there are also program evaluation sets, and a 1993 Government Performance Results Act.

He showed several graphics including "Program Evaluation Feedback Loop." It is considered to be a rational process. It is also very stagnant which ignores political issues.

If you remember why you are doing this, you can often come up with your own answers to your questions.

Evaluation questions include "merit." Orr's model does not include stakeholders very well, they are listed as "Demand" How can you produce demand?

Performance Assessment is often blind to unintended consequences. Does not ask: what are the real needs of the community?

Input statistics, should only be used only in connection with outputs, only potential for services. Output statistics measure current level of performance.

Goals are often related to the statistics. Aren't you going to reach a point where you can no longer improve?

Interpreting output statistics: interpret in relation to goals and is left up to the library. There are no standards for evaluating quality or the value of the items. We also don't look at the relationships between the data elements. (Or don't trust the judgments we make.)

PLA Spring Symposium Notes

So, I was looking in blogger, and found that I had not posted these.

They need some editing, the first will come up today. I am working on the others.

Info service? Bad name

I came in this morning to find the latest series of posts on PUBLIB about a new text answer service. If you go to the PUBLIB archives, look for the posts which have "Text to 542542" in the subject.

The second post mentioned the name of the service:

My reaction was visceral and immediate. What kind of dummy would choose that as a name? But before I posted to PUBLIB, I checked. Yes, KGB is the Russian abbreviation of Komityet Gosudarstvjennoj Biezopasnosti (Committee for State Security). also known as the Soviet secret police.

As a quick reference (rather than wander downstairs, and to get "clippable quotes," I went to Wikipedia. Here is one quote which reflects part of the reason for my reaction:

During the Cold War, the KGB played a critical role in the survival of the Soviet one-party state through its suppression of political dissent (termed "ideological subversion") and hounding of notable public figures such as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Andrei Sakharov.
Here is a second quote:
One of the KGB’s chief preoccupations during the Cold War was the suppression of unorthodox beliefs, the persecution of the Soviet dissidents, and the containment of their opinions. Indeed, this obsession with "ideological subversion" only increased throughout the Cold War, primarily due to the rise of Yuri Andropov in the KGB and his appointment as chairman in 1967. Andropov declared that every instance of dissent, including for example religious movements that rejected the Communist Party, were a threat to the Soviet state that must be challenged. He mobilized the resources of the KGB to achieve this goal. Soon after Yuri Andropov's appointment one of the KGB departments was assigned to deal with religious leaders, churches and its members. Most dissidents were apprehended by the KGB and sent to gulags for indefinite periods, where their dissent would lack the strength it might have had in public.
Why would anyone in their right minds choose this as a name.Even worse, they call the people who work for them "agents." As a friend of mine would say: Holy cats!!

Now.....I have some other issues with the service including the fact that they pay the huge sum of 10 cents per answer. How trustworthy are the answers at that price.

I am about ready to begin a campaign against them on multiple levels.

DMV - Fail - Update

Just a final note, the third time was the charm, and now both cars have not only Louisiana plates, but "brake tags."

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

DMV - Fail

I had such high hopes.

When you live a while in a place, your interactions with the DMV become infrequent. You only have to show up in person to renew your license (as long as you have the car dealer do the registration on new or leased cars). So I had not had any memorable experiences in Connecticut with the DMV.

My experiences in Wisconsin were fine. At least in Eau Claire, they have a system where you walk up to a machine, and push a button for a number, depending on the type of transaction. Then you sit and wait for your number. No big deal. I may have waited as long as 20 minutes on one occasion.

My experiences in Louisiana started out, well, okay. First of all, you get in a very long line, and then when you get to the head of the line, you get a number depending on the type of transaction. That part took me the better part of an hour, but from then on, it moved very quickly and efficiently. I registered my car and got my license in one trip. Not bad. Maybe I was lucky because in Wisconsin, even if you finance your car, you get the title.

Well, it gets worse. My partner has a leased car which she leased before leaving Minnesota. It took a total of seven trips to the DMV, plus a trip to the car dealer, multiple faxes and phone calls to the car company over the course of 3 months to get her car registered. It seems like Louisiana makes it hard to register a leased car, and to move it from another state. The first time they gave a list of documents. Well, based on using the standard English meaning of the word "or" we thought we had the documents after the visit to the car dealer and the first fax to the car company. But, no, we did not. Another fax to the car company, and more documents sent to us, and we tried again. [Remember, each time, there is the wait in the long line for the number only to be told we are missing documents!] We try a different DMV office, located in our parish, but on the other side of the river. Finding it was an adventure in itself, but....even though it is an official office, they don't do out-of-state transfers or drivers licences! Back to the other DMV office. We get in line again. They say, "You have to have the original title." (This is even though the document they had previously given us said "or a certified copy.") But we say, they won't give us the original. They say, have them send it. We call. We can't ask to have it sent, the DMV has to ask. Another trip. We get them to ask. How will we know it is there? They say to call the toll-free number and ask to be transferred to that office. Off we go. A few days later, we call the toll-free number. "Oh, we can't transfer you. You have to go there in person." Another wait in line, and....they don't have it!

On the final trip, it works! Car registered, plates given, drivers license in hand.

But wait. Then there is the matter of brake tags.

I never would have known if someone had not casually mentioned them. This seems like the biggest boondoggle of all. Each parish has its own rules, some require emissions, some do not. (Thank goodness, Orleans Parish does not.) I visit a local service station which advertises "Brake Tags" and pull up. It costs $20. For this amount they:
  1. Examine registration and insurance card
  2. Check the head lights, tail lights, turn signals
  3. Check the windshield for cracks
  4. Check the windshield wipers
  5. Check the horn
That's it. It is less of a check than what you would have had done in Massachusetts in the 1960s!

Well, my car was done. Having gotten the plates for the other car, we went on Saturday afternoon to get brake tags. Sorry, only do those between 8 am and noon on Saturday (that would be a day when people who work could actually get there). But, they will be doing it on Monday, Memorial Day from 8 am until 4 pm. Monday we pull up at about 9 am. We think all is fine. But wait, it is raining, and they don't do it in the rain or when the pavement is wet. [WTF???] Talk about a scam.

I will say I am puzzled about the brake checks. They are supposed to be done every year. If that is true, why do I follow so many cars which have at least one non-working tail light and/or turn signal (and, no, it is not that they don't use them -- which many don't)? Why do I see so many cars that pass me or that I pass which have cracks all the way across the windshield, and many of them have many cracks?

Definitely counts as, the current terminology on the web goes: FAIL!