Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Reflections on politics -- after "reading"

Those who actually visit the blog know that one of the audiobooks which moved from "Currently Listening to" to "Recently Listened to" is Fallen Founder: The life of Aaron Burr by Nancy Isenberg, read by Scott Brick. I have been thinking about much of what was in that work.

First, let me admit that while I do know a fair amount of US History, most of what I have read in this area over the past couple decades has been fiction. Even in college, I did not take any US History courses, so I have actually read very little scholarly writing on this time period.

Certainly, I "knew of" Aaron Burr, and knew that he had shot Alexander Hamilton in a duel, while Burr was serving as US Vice-President for Thomas Jefferson, and that Hamilton had died of the resulting wound. Part of why I picked up the book was that I really did not know very much of how the duel came to happen.

It is really clear in this work that part of the reason for Burr's tarnished reputation was that Hamilton had a much more aggressive "fan base" who made sure that Burr was excoriated after the duel.

However, I was surprised to hear of the level of personal attacks which regularly occurred in the newspapers of the day, in handbills, and in personal interactions. While there has been discussion about personal attacks on political figures at the end of the 20th Century and beginning of this one, those attacks seem mild by comparison to the attacks relayed in this book.

Burr is also at a disadvantage that most of his letters, and much of his writing (journals, etc.) were lost at sea when his daughter died in a shipwreck. As opposed to political rivals like Jefferson and Hamilton whose published papers run to more than 20 volumes each.

While I continue to respect Jefferson for his work in crafting the Declaration of Independence, the portrayal of his character in this book is less than flattering. It appears to me that he cast off Burr for simple political reasons. He did not have the strength of character to stand up for a man (who had his own flaws) who was honest in his political life.

It was certainly an interesting experience, and I would recommend listening to this. I suspect that I missed the footnotes, and maybe even further explanations by choosing to listen rather than read. But, as I posted earlier in March, "Generally, I look for things that I would not normally read in print. Therefore there is more non-fiction, even though this spring has been pretty heavy non-fiction print reading."

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Blast from the past

A few weeks ago, I saw an announcement from the East Baton Rouge Public Parish Library that "Dr." Michael Bielawa would be presenting a program on baseball. Well, I thought, "Is that the same MB who worked for me at Bridgeport Public Library and wrote a book about Louisiana baseball (oh, and Bridgeport baseball, too)?"

Emails followed, and yes it was "my" Michael B. When I was City Librarian there (2000 - 2006) he was head of Community Relations, and along with Michael R, would sometimes "cover" the office.

Well, this morning, I got a call, and we met for coffee (along with his charming, artist wife Janice) at PJ's on Maple Street. [I think this is the original PJ's location.] We had a great hour plus of reminiscing and catching up. [Shout out here to all my BPL friends...we talked about you. In so many ways I miss you, but I am enjoying my new life.] There was some sadness in hearing about the difficulties at BPL, but I also know that all of you are strong competent people who will survive!

I am in a better place for me, and am happy. Check with Michael B when he gets back!

[Edited on Monday, 3/30 to add links and correct the name of the EBRPL.]

Friday, March 27, 2009

LLA Conference 2009 - A summary

Well, it took a little longer than I expected to get my last post up, but I finally have. Now it is time for an overview of the conference.

Here is a list of my posts about programs I attended at the LLA 2009 Conference (with links) and in the order of appearance. I have some reflections on the conference at the end.
In addition there were a couple of status updates. One noted the lack of wi-fi in the meeting rooms and my technical problems, and the other was just a short posting status update. There were several programs where I poked my head in, or just sat for a bit. And I did not blog the Public Library Section business meeting, or the Awards Ceremony. I also did not blog either of the two author luncheons I attended.

Every association has its own feel, and that was abundantly clear to me. This was my first opportunity to meet a number of my new colleagues in the state, and to say hello to some long-time friends.

The Conference was held at the Hilton in downtown Baton Rouge. For me, this meant driving to work, just like I always do. I even parked in the same garage in which I park every day. One difference was driving in on Saturday -- and the traffic was much lighter then! I was also committed to staffing the booth for a couple hours on Saturday.

I learned a great deal at the conference, and it was a good opportunity to begin to put together names and faces.

Spring is sprung and other reflections

It is spring -- at least in southern Louisiana. I have now been driving I-10 from New Orleans to Baton Rouge daily since December 1. It is about the same distance as from Eau Claire [WI] to the Twin Cities. I have noted some significant differences, besides the volume of traffic.

The first part of the trip after leaving the New Orleans metro area is across a swampy area, the Bonnet Carre Spillway, and more swamps. It is over 25 miles of bridges in the first 35 miles of the trip. After that, there is not much "built environment" until you get to the outskirts of Baton Rouge. I first drove the route right after Hurricane Gustav, and noticed that not only were there trees downed, but there were not many leaves on the trees. While my next several trips along the route were space out (early October, late November), the leaves never came back. Of course, it was soon "winter" in Louisiana.

About a month ago, I began to notice that there were "red buds" on some trees, and that others were getting green-ish at the tips. Well, in the month since then, the trees (many stripped bare at the end of August) have fully leafed out. It is a much prettier drive.

Here, we had a dry winter. However, after a couple of days of thunderstorms, I will note that it does not take long for the water to come back -- or it may just be a case of not draining quickly. Many places that were swampy last fall had dried up over the winter. But this morning I particularly noticed how high the water was in Lake Pontchartrain, and that not only the swampy areas along side the road, but the medians had filled with water.

One big difference is what you see along the shoulders. Last winter/spring, I counted over twenty dead deer, and many other dead animals on a trip from Eau Claire to the Cities. Here, while there is the occasional small, unidentified road kill, I have only seen one dead deer -- and that was gone in 24 hours, unlike the upper Midwest. What there is instead, are vehicles. There were a dozen or so (not counting the accident which had just occurred) along the side of the road as I drove this morning. Some of them have been there for several days to a week. I am not sure what it means.

Over the weekend I will be adding some recent Baton Rouge photos to my Flickr account (and will come back and insert a link). The flowers are out, and when it is not raining, it is very nice to walk around the Capitol grounds. There are many trees, flowering shrubs, and even flowers. With the day-time temperatures getting into the low 80s, it is very nice -- especially when the humidity is low. We will see what the summer means!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

State of the State Library (Louisiana)

Rebecca Hamilton started in spite of some time spent trying to overcome technical difficulties.

The State Library budget is $12.6 million, $20,000 self generated, $2.9 million in federal funding. The largest expense is personnel. Next largest is “inter-agency transfers” which includes all of the building expenses. Other library operation expenses include printing and postage. Another large category is the book festival at $250,000; Inter-Library Loan costs $210,000; databases are about $1 million,( Rebecca regularly reminds legislators that if libraries were billed individually for the same databases, the total cost would be $10 million). Other items are filtering software, and an automated system for the Library for the Blind and Physical Handicapped. State aid is $3 million. If Louisiana gave publid libraries the national average (per capita) then state aid would be $7.5 million. Books and materials for the State Library is budgeted at about $360,000.

In January there were mid-year budget cuts. The state went from expecting a surplus to having a deficit. Agencies gave back about 7%. Cuts included not filling seven vacant positions, and reductions in items which had not been spent, or could be delivered in other ways such as using email instead of mailing items including the newsletter Communique.

For the next budget year, the budget will most likely be reduced further. The Library was asked for an additional 33%. It was tough because the State Library restructured significantly after “the storms” (Katrina and Rita). The Library figured out, at that time, a new way to do business. Some positions were eliminated, and departments were combined. Job descriptions were re-written and positions were re-classified. The new governor believes in transparency, streamlined government, but the new governor does not know that the Library has already done that. New budget from the Governor was presented yesterday.

Yesterday the Commissioner’s office asked for the seven positions to be permanently eliminated. That was not acceptable. Library leadership is going back to look at the organization chart to see what can be done. The Lieutenant Governor is willing to help in the fight to save the positions.

Rebecca’s view is that people have different views about what is the best for the state. Of course, Rebecca believes that her position is right, and she will fight as strong as she can for the positions.

State Library will continue to communicate to librarians in the field

What are the benefits that the State Library delivers to libraries? They are

Databases $1,109,674

ILL $210,000

Delivery services $220,000

Internet $500,000

State Aid $3,000,000

Library for the Blind and

Physically Handicapped $857,750

Workshops & Children’s

services $120,000

TOTAL = $6,017,424

Federal funding from IMLS is used to support the statewide initiatives. The state dollars are tied to the federal funding. Therefore, reducing state funding has a large impact because of the loss of federal dollars.

At the worst, right after Hurricane Katrina, 121 of the 339 public libraries in the state were closed. Now 321 of 338 library buildings are open, thanks to the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Solinet, plus $70,000 in individual contributions. There was an additional $2.4 million from the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund. Altogether over $9 million was donated.

From storms, and after 48 days on the job, it is critical to have a plan. But there was no plan for loss of power at the State Library.

Created a plan, and learned with Gustav and Ike that the plan worked. The State Library started to implement the plan 4 days before landfall. They had gathered contact info, not just the library director, but other key staff and even parish staff who are involved with buildings and building maintenance. So after Gustav, opened the State Library with a generator and a fan to provide Internet access.

The State Library back up server used to be in Vermillion, and it now has been moved to Monroe (away from the coast). Core services were backed up. Data was stored in multiple, secure locations.

Some of the successful services and programs that the State Library provides were listed next.

The summer reading program had 83,000 participants. All statistics are now rising. Louisiana has joined the national programming cooperative. The children’s theme is Be Creative; for the teen program it is Express yourself; and there is even an adult program with the theme Master the Art of Reading.The Book Festival has grown from 5,000 to 21,000. The Louisiana Gumbo project is complete with 23,000 photos 1,600 WPA documents and many art works. Anew ILL system has been implemented and all library systems have been trained. The first state-wide library staff day was help in January with almost 150 attendees. An IMLS grant for providing leadership training to the next generation of Louisiana library leadership has been submitted. Fighting the Fires of Hate: America a the Nazi Book Burnings, a national exhibit will be hosted. Libraries received early literacy workstations, and the State Library has received a national Leadership Training Grant.

By a stroke of luck, Louisiana will be participating as a pilot site in the ALA-APA Library Support Staff Certification Program. This is a national program funded by IMLS and ALA which will help standardize expectations for support staff and master job competencies.

Louisiana will be providing content for one of the competencies. The pilot will run March-November 2009, and the full program will launch January 2, 2010.

The PowerPoint presentation (with pie charts and graphs) is on this page under presentations or directly linked here.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Who wants to be a Certified Public Library Administrator?

Dr. Terri Maggio cme to Assumption Parish in 2007, and had already done most of the CPLA work prior to her arrival. She decided that since she was “between positions” she would have an additional credential. She also thought that she would be able to acquire more skills which would make her both a better administrator and a more attractive candidate.

Many other states have certification 14 require public library certification. She showed a slide with the history of the certification program. She started in the fall of 2006.

“My career goals are to continually improve my skills and knowledge in order to improve and streamline existing library services and to manage library personnel as a leader.” Debra Czarnik, Cape Coral FL

Other reasons to apply included addition to the resume, to find a better job, and to become knowledgeable in areas that you are unfamiliar with.

There are four core standards: budget and finance; management of technology; organization and personnel administration; and planning and management of buildings. She took six of her seven courses through the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. They are offered online, do not even require that you do the online class live. There is discussion and an archive of the lectures, chats, and electronic discussions. Most cost about $300. Total cost was about $3,500.

There are currently 114 public librarians. Nine have finished the program so far. You need to complete four core courses and three electives within 5 years. There are also intensive 2-day courses scattered around the country.

Providers include: University of North Texas, UIUC, PLA, and Southeastern Massachusetts Library System.

Recertification is required every 5 years and requires 60 hours of continuing education.

On Relief: Federal Depository Libraries: Marketing Strategies and Activities

Cynthia DuBois and Rita Franks

[Personal note and confession: Early in my career, I was actually the Depository Librarian at the Bridgeport Public Library. I happened to discover, early on, that we were about to celebrate our 100th anniversary of being a depository library, so I organized a celebration. We got a rep from the GPO as well as local federal officials including the Postmaster to attend.]

In 2006, the Depository Library Council created a document with the vision statement that Knowledge will forever govern.

FDLP marketing campaign is free, dedicated, and limitless. Promotional materials are in packets: posters, pocket cards, table tents, bookmarks, and buttons “Ask me about FDLs!”

Strategies (this part was focused on academic libraries) include being at key events in the community (campus), alternative reference services like chat and IM [Meebo], social networking sites, networking, regular PR (newspapers, radio).

We are encouraged to send state produced documents through the State Library of Louisiana’s state depository program which then sends the information sent statewide. Use contacts with the local state offices and quasi-governmental agencies.

Strategies in the library include using internal displays, creating flyers, articles for the newsletter, library orientation, and service on organizational committees which do promotion. You can also do contests/games, create a handout area and seek flyers from agencies. Look for interesting items coming in to use on display in the department. Tie the display with local interests. Let departments know when something “profoundly cook” arrives. Offer workshops and training to the public on topics of local interest. Go on local radio/television media programs.

Think about what makes your library unique? How can you publicize or help the public? Appeal to your community. Some types of information that is included in depository collections includes:
Ø Health and nutrition
Ø Military and US History
Ø Travel
Ø Maps
Ø Business and statistics
Ø Pictorials

Disaster Management Plan: Steps in the Process

Stephen T. Brien is the CEO of EnviroCare is an expert in dealing with disaster issues, and is a forensic environmentalist. His presentation focused on archives.

Pre-disaster review: Locate and document the types of records and their current condition and the current building environment. From Iowa floods had 75 tractor trailer loads of documents. Make the decision on what you are planning to keep – in advance. It is possible to make some decisions after the freeze-drying process.

Identify the records which can be electronically reproduced. Make sure to get the political agreement within the organization.

You have to be smart about FEMA reimbursement. You can have an archive company which can understand and know the key players.

Evaluation includes visual inspection, moisture mapping, air sampling. Document photographically.

Talk with companies in advance and look at their physical plant. You need a group which can triage stuff for you (and without you).

Getting a baseline is critical. There will most likely be documents which you cannot recover, or cannot be recovered without huge expense.

Risks and resources outside the building include proximity to rivers and other bodies of water and nearby industrial sites (industrial demographics). It is important to know about resources in the community including highways and rail access, cold storage and refrigeration units, and warehouse space.

Create categories of documents:
  • Category 1 shows little or no evidence of damage
  • Category 2 shows visible evidence of damage but can be restored to a usable condition
  • Category 3 shows visible evidence of extreme damage and should be discarded.
Disaster Management: The disaster has hit. No matter how well you plan, there will be problems.

Assess the scope of the disaster, what kind of event has happened and how widespread is the damage.
  • Level I – the event is localized and containable. The building can remain open.
  • Level II – is a single event that is contrainable. The building may or may not remain open, but can recover.
  • Level III – is a catastrophic event that impedes the long term use.
    Determine damages, determine what resources are needed, develop protocols for the event, bring the resources to the table, and monitor to make sure that only needed services are provided. Make sure that you do not use only one firm for anything. Service providers may respond with what they have not necessarily what you need. You will be second guessed.
Moisture mapping is important. In some of the Florida disasters, the second floor may have mold and other damage from mold and other bacteria (graham-negative bacteria). Whoever is doing business with you needs to have pollution control insurance.

Why are we doing this? Wet materials are very time sensitive, the sooner the documents are dried the more favorable the results.

How to get paid for the disaster: Generally never see a FEMA person (employee), usually dealing with a consultant or contractor. You need to mitigate damages is the key. Make sure that resources and equipment are removed as soon as reasonable. The Clerk of the Works assists with reimbursement and documentation.

Go out now and talk with FEMA and other officials locally to be prepared in advance.

Opening General Session

LLA President Melissa Hymel began with introducing Dean Beth Paskoff from SLIS at LSU who gave a brief state of the school address. Course offerings have changed since I was in library school including: courses on graphic novels, getting a paper through the refereeing process. One course offered each semester is on designing web sites, if you want your library to be on the list for a real web site design contact the school. She said that we should continue to encourage folks to come to library school. She noted that, like us, she is waiting to find out about the fiscal future. Governor Jindal will release the budget today on Friday, March 13. It is a long process. The school’s proposal for PhD program has been put on hold. The University’s Regents have put all ne program proposal on hold for three years. In the rumor control, she noted that the newspaper reported that the MLS program had been included on a list of “low-completion rate programs.” This was an error. The program actually has a high completion rate; registration is up 9% over last year. She also encouraged contributions to the LLA scholarship fund.

Melissa then introduced Keith Michael Fiels, the ALA Executive Director. Keith began in his usual, inimitable, sometimes casual style. He noted that he is having dinner tonight in Seattle with 10,000 academic librarians – it is where ACRL is having its conference. He also apologized for bringing “cold weather” with him. He has made many trips to New Orleans but has also been told that it is not Louisiana. One of the most memorable trips was 4 weeks after Katrina. What he saw was shocking. It was part of making one of the toughest decisions in his life. It was the right decision and that conference showed how libraries can really change lives.

He started as a school librarian, worked in a public library, went back to school. He then was hired by E.J. Josey as a consultant for the New York State Library. Then he ran a multi-type library system in NJ, and the NJ state Library. When he went to Massachusetts, he arrived at a time when libraries being closed. In the next decade all were reopened and they re-built 350 of the 356 main public libraries in the state.

He talked about the future of libraries. But without PowerPoint; with no discussion of paradigm shifts; no demonstration of new cool technologies; he also agreed to not talk about the economic crisis and how things have now changed forever.

There is a danger in talking about the future. Can make you look silly. In our attempts to anticipate the future, we can accidently create it. If we talk about the fact that there will not be enough money for libraries, the result may well be a loss of funding..

“The future does not create us, rather we create the future.”

Series of challenges and choices we face today. How we can respond to the challenges and how our responses will face the future.

How will the Internet and new technologies affect the library. Let’s face it “Library 2.0” is here, let’s embrace it. Welcome to your new collection, not just books, but also e-books and other user generated content. New services: work in person, but also via IM, Facebook, wikis, and blogs. What will be there local history, homework help, e-government. Gaming is now “hot” or Second Life. Twitter…is anyone twittering this? People will be using your library remotely as much as in person. In Florida 20 of use is remote, but they use more frequently up to 3 time faster. E-government is here. Most dramatic was lines at libraries to file for FEMA aid. All government services will be online. Where will people go? Not Post Office or DMV. Why? There is one in every town, and people are trained. In the US there are more libraries than McDonalds. “The library is the only place you can go and consult with someone with an advanced degree – for free!”

There will always be a gap, and we will need to be there and will need to be there in the future. To do that, we will need more funding. Gates study shows that libraries are at capacity. Bandwidth is a huge issue. There is a significant amount of money available in stimulus package to increase bandwidth for libraries.

Technology is more that popping a piece of software on the computer. Librarians are trained to help and find what you need.

What about the traditional book? By the time as electronic books are as portable, durable, and inexpensive as a book, they will look incredibly like a book. Until they invent one which is “sand-proof” you cannot take it to the beach.

We continue to serve all. Need to overcome barriers of race, disability, language. We need to lead the way in diversity. Profession must change as the nation changes. Spectrum scholarships 70 last year, but it is just a drop in the bucket. We need to work to preserve the first amendment rights of our users. Things like CIPA, USA PATRIOT Act infringe on user rights, and our leadership on these issues increased the role of librarians. Need to fight to keep information free. Copyright is a huge issue. Access to government information is key. There is a constant struggle to get government information. About 18 months ago, EPA started to close their libraries, and ALA fought to get Congress to change that. We need to continue to recruit the best and the brightest. Need to shatter the image of librarian. “Libraries are about people.” We need people-people in the profession. The retirement myth: Baby Boom-Y2K. [Thanks to the stock market, I will work until 90.] Need to be careful about the myths we create. Globalization has an effect and librarians we need to lead the world. We need to be involved in development. Important role in

Library funding…what can we do to increase funding? We will need more money because we are doing more not less. The economy is in tough shape. It goes up and down. The problem is that the library is often the first to be cut in a bad time. The reality is that we will be seeing cuts in the next year. More disturbing are proposals like, why don’t we run it with volunteers. Privatization. Can we do anything? Yes…advocacy is critical. Everyone talks about it, but what does it mean? Advocacy is the process by which we secure additional support by working with community members to reach those who make funding decisions. We need plans. If we had more money, this is what we can do. It is vision which drives funding growth. We need to assert our role in education. Public libraries are where most children develop their reading habits, often before they even get to school. Need to go head to head with the education establishment. “How can you say you care about education and cut libraries?” We need to use research on the value of libraries, and there are many studies out there. We need to do a better job of involving the public in promoting the role of libraries. FOLUSA becoming part of ALA. www.lovelibraries.org has opportunities to be involved in local groups. Need to increase public awareness of the importance of libraries using radio, TV, print media, and the Internet. Many are not aware of the range of services offered at the library.

Easier than we think to get increased funding, mostly because we get so little. Locally we get 1%, statewide 0.1%, and nationally $0.001. We need to shamelessly plug libraries. We do good things. OCLC study: resonate – equal access to all.

Need to ask for money!

Last challenge and toughest challenge, can libraries survive? Those who say that libraries are not needed with the Internet – don’t believe them. Our libraries are busier than ever. Library visits are up 10-15% nationally: economy, e-government, etc. People come to libraries for more than what a library provides (including social interaction).

The library is a mechanism by which a community gathers resources for use by all.

This is hard work. Nothing has ever been achieved without persistence and hard work. The libraries we have today were built, brick by brick through the hard work of our predecessors.

Building to Maintain and Sustain: LLA Preconference

The first speaker was James Evans, LEED certified Architect who currently works for NASA. He spoke about LEED certification and the LEED process in general. LEED is a program of the USGBC to promote buildings that are environmentally responsible, economically viable, and healthy for their occupants. The official definition of LEED is : Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – a leading edge system for certifying design, construction and operations of buildings around the world.

Buildings are judged on site planning, water management, energy management, material use, indoor environmental air quality, innovation and design process. There is a triple bottom line:
Environment, Economics, People.

The USGBC is now working with code officials to encourage adoption of the standards. Orange County FL has gone even further and now puts LEED certified buildings to top of the list for reviews and inspections.

The certification is on a point system and includes the following:
  • Sustainable sites: includes erosion, light pollution, transportation, etc.
  • Water use: landscaping, innovative wastewater management, etc.
  • Energy: performance measure, documenting cost impacts, etc.
  • Materials and resources: construction waste management, sustainable cleaning products, occupant recycling, use of alternative materials [greenbuilding.com]
  • Indoor environment quality: outside air exhaust, CO2 levels, thermal comfort, controllability of systems, daylighting and views, green cleaning materials, etc.
  • Additional points can be earned for innovations.

There are four levels of LEED certification (from highest to lowest): platinum, gold, silver, certified

LEED buildings have an average savings: energy 30%; carbon 35%; water use 30-50%; waste cost 50-90%.

It is simple to go online to register and complete the checklist. The certification process is completely online.

A study of California LEED buildings as done over the past 10 years; it included 33 diverse buildings. The study found that the increased cost for LEED requirements was 1.8%; five buildings had no increased cost. Green improvements, on the average, pay for themselves in 3 years. What was once a trend, now is the mainstream. The ROI (return on investment) is 25-40%. By LEED level the added construction cost were: platinum 6.8%, gold 2.2%, silver 1.9%, certified 0.66%.

Result is an improved bottom line: 30-70% energy savings, verified performance, increased value, reduced liability & improved risk management and enhanced productivity.

Mr. Evans then presented several case studies. He noted that he has been working with Chevron on building in Covington which is gold certified. In 2006, nationwide, there were 4,500 registered projects of which 610 certified. Now there are 10,000 + new construction projects registered and over 1700 certified. This is not just a US, Dubai requires all new buildings to be at least silver, and many European countries are the same.

Other groups standards are involved. ASHRAE Standard 189 and 90.1 both apply. They also work with AIA and IESNA, and are starting to work with BOMA (building operators)

The reference guide which people study to be certified as a LEED AP is about 250 – 300 pages. As of April 1, 2009 there is a new testing process with different test for different fields.

Denelle Wrightson, Director of Library architecture at PSA-Dewberry in Dallas, was the second speaker. She is both a librarian, and interior designer. Her topic was “Green initiative which you can do in your building.” She noted that even if not going for certification, most libraries are adopting aspects of green. She spoke about several topics.

Site selection. Need not only location, but orientation and paying attention to both the east/west axis and the north/south access. Here want to shade from the hot summer sun. Here, can do an overhang, and need to pay attention to the deep overhang since gathering “solar gain” is not as important as in the north. Want north-facing diffuse light, but need to also pay attention to late afternoon sun. East and west are harder and can be done inside. Outside needs to be movable. Pay particular attention to west light. Also pay attention to new technology which can control light. Another part is transportation. Can get points by location on a public transportation route. In EBR working with transit to re-route buses so that they go past the site. With transportation, can do less paving and parking (get points on the paving, save money on the parking). In densely populated can do adaptive re-use. North Garland Texas renovated an existing site at $20/square foot. For South Garland, used former supermarket, and cost was $80 sq foot (plus $15 for furniture).

Pedestrian friendly: Points for bicycle storage and shower for staff. Project in Virginia came in 20% below year ago bid even after adding LEED. Parking for high efficiency vehicles (Smartcar, Prius). Landscape with xeriscape which is an ongoing cost saving. Green roofs – reduce heat island effect, long life-span, reduce water run-off, $10-15 sq foot higher initial cost. Rainwater harvesting systems collect excess water from rain and use it for irrigation, toilet flushing, etc. Can range in cost $50,000 – 600,000.

Porous pavement and paving systems: “Grass-crete” is popular and saves on water run-off issues with minor cost impact.

Energy: 70% of electricity is used in office buildings (including public buildings). Solar panels have been around a while, but payback is still a long time (20+ years). Initial costs are still too high. Wind harvesting is being talked about, but we are not in a good zone, need a consistent 4 mph constant wind.

Geothermal is increasing. It can be used for both heating and cooling. Significant savings, up to 70%. Paybacks are also shortening. For a 50,000 square foot building in Tulsa cost is $500,000 – 600,000 but with a payback of 3 – 4 years.

Daylighting is the practice of using natural light to illuminate building spaces. People are drawn to natural light, and it is healthier. There are new technologies including LED lights that fit in fluorescent fixtures with a ballast change. Daylight helps people to be able to “read” the space.

Daylight harvesting. Low-e glass is good in the south; it lets in a portion of the light, but reflects the solar gain. With lighting, most foot-candle measurements are at table height, but in the stacks it is important to get floor level measurements. It is possible to have 35 foot-candles at the top of the stack, but as low as 6 for the bottom shelf. Pay attention to color and how it will reflect or absorb light. Need a brightness ratio.

Maintenance people always say to not use skylights. However, they can be done well. Tubular skylights can work well, or you can use technology and have vanes to reflect. Clerestory windows are a good way to bring in natural light, but need to pay attention. Use light shelves to reflect the light in.

Computer models can allow for estimates, and to see if you are doing the right treatments in the right areas.

Use technology to balance artificial and natural light. Use sensors to turn on lights, and gradually turn them on. Occupancy sensors can help save electricity.

Recycling is important. While we may use it in the library, we have the opportunity to educate the community on the importance and value of recycling. Can used re-cycled materials. Carpet can be recycled, and companies that sell new carpeting often will take the old. The cost of recycled materials is coming down. For many libraries it is possible to certify with the only cost that of registration. Often there is very little added cost for “Silver LEED.” Timberglen Branch Library in Dallas has an interactive kiosk which lets the public see what is happening with the various building systems.

About 70% of the libraries are doing the certification process. The biggest cost is the cost of the consultant to prepare the documents for certification. But the cost is going down; current cost is about $20 – 30,000. There are grants to help cover the cost of certification. Most grants are state-wide initiatives, and there are none in Louisiana.

Maureen Arndt spoke on Going Green through re-design. She is an architect and interior designer. She started by asking the question: “Green—why?” The answer is rising utility bills, the fact that there are stimulus funds tied to green, and libraries have less funds for additional staff.

Recycling – recycle during the building project and beyond. Coca-Cola has a grant program to start a recycling program. Closed loop recycling is the process of using a re-cycled product in the manufacture of a similar product of remanufacturing for the same product. Post-consumer is using recycled material. Post-industrial content is waste material from the manufacturing process that is reused. Re-purposing is cleaning or refurbishing something for a different use.

She then discussed some specific interior features and handed around samples of several of them:

  • Floors – green issues include: Where does the raw material come from? How much transportation is needed? What is used in the manufacturing process? How is it packaged? How hard is it to use? How hard is it to recycle? With carpeting, look for companies that will take your carpet back. Now, 5 billion pounds of carpeting winds up in landfills. VOCs (volatile organic compounds) are in some carpet products or adhesives. Look for a label. “Walk off carpet” is where people walk before you get into the main part of the building. Benefits of carpet include improved acoustics, capturing dust, reduction in airborne particulates, is recycled and recyclable. Color has improved in recycled carpet. What’s next? Polyactic acid made from corn. Cork is durable and is quiet. Much is dyed, so watch for fading from the sun. Not good for places with moisture. Needs a backing to help it stay flat. Bamboo has become really popular. It grows really fast, installs like hardwood floor. Grows naturally, and does not need pesticides. Use natural colors, and heated it can dent. Linoleum is an old material which has see a resurgence. Made from linseed oil (a natural product). Easy to care for. Stained concrete is louder, but be sure to specify non-acidic, water-borne stains. Have to seal it (at least every couple years), and have to clean it often.
  • Walls: paint – Harmony paint, low VOC, inhibits mildew growth, durable. Recycled wall covering, 20% recycled, 10% post consumer. Vinyl wall covering is a moisture barrier. Low VOC but need to spec adhesive. Recycled acrylic panels are 40 – 100% recycled. No landfill waste.
  • There is recycled material for cabinets. Some made from sunflower seeds, wheat, MDF dust. Can be used for end-panels, substrate for cabinets or counters.
  • Ceiling – tiles…light ceiling to reflect ceiling, hypo-allergenic, resistant to moisture.
  • Lighting – appliances look for Energy Star appliances which saves 30% on energy bill and reduces CO2. Light fixtures. Accounts for 30% of electricity. Lamps on tables to increase task lighting. Replace T12 bulbs with T8. Install dimmers. Auto dimmers do not work really well in bigger rooms, fine in smaller ones.
  • Furniture – pay attention to manufacturing process and LEED. Using wind power, eliminating waste and emissions, and building showrooms which are LEED certified. Shipping….minimize boxes and use blankets (blanket wrapped and shipped). Furniture can “off gas” which release VOCs. Can ask to have it “off-gassed” before delivery. FSC certified means that the forest being harvested is being re-forested. What to do with existing furniture? Reuse, recycle, or donate. Can specify re-cycled fabrics. 100% post-consumer recycled, but look at the spec for “double rubs” 75,000 is a good number. Smell absorption, can get charcoal liner or Gore-tex backing. Also look at leathers or faux leathers, the latter does not absorb moisture.

James Evans and John Thompson talked about Building Commissioning. Jim was the first speaker and John is the CEO of Thompson Building Energy Solutions LLC.

Design is the combination of architect ego and owner needs. Energy efficient design does not always result from this combination. Can do energy modeling of building design to see where the issues are prior to construction. These modeling programs can include factors such as wind and solar direction; it is useful in the LEED certification process; it can also factor in features such as landscaping.

Commissioning is a value added solution for standard construction. In standard construction, owners are not experts in construction; there is limited participation by specialist; profit depends on minimizing time spent; there is a lack of accountability for start-up training and project turnover. As a result building systems do not function properly.

Commissioning is the systematic and documented process of ensuring that the operational needs are met and operators trained. It is a TQM process. It is possible to re-commission a previously commissioned building. Can “retro-commission” a building which has never been commissioned before. It is a total oversight. There are different levels of commissioning which can be chosen based on budget. Work for either architect or owner, prefer to work for owner. They are involved in the design process. They suggest two peer reviews during the process. They verify the building systems are installed, tested, and perform properly.

In operation, staff training is critical. They also check building systems documentation and check out the staff for the opposite season. They film and put on DVD to include with the manuals, training includes not just operation, but also maintenance.

Benefits: reduced operating costs; reduce change orders because of the design review and presence during construction; fewer comfort problems; improved staff training; reduced contractor call backs; increased life of equipment; documented maintenance requirements.

Costs for projects less than $30 million is 1.25 – 2 % of construction costs, and less as the project is larger. Savings from commissioning are from immediate to 3 years, initial and operation 10 – 20 %; utility savings of 10 – 30%; and reduction in change orders.

LEED Commissioning is a pre-requisite from the building energy systems.

If we do everything right, your operations of the building should be much easier and b etter. No hot and cold spots, won’t “get killed” with an energy bill.

Controllability of systems is important. It is possible to run the air plenums under the floor with more controls for the small areas. Makes workers happier, and saves energy.

Charlie Chartier spoke about “Floor coverings and maintenance.”

To continue to be green you need to be sure that the cleaning companies and cleaning supply companies are aware of the green status of the building. USGBC has web based seminars on “green cleaning.” Some people have gone from 150 different chemicals in the old building and now use 4 in the new building. One of the problems is that cleaning people use too much product and do not rinse enough out.

Use enhanced commissioning. Jerry Jones (State of Louisiana) says that the one thing he will not cut out of a project is commissioning. The term comes from the US Navy process of “commissioning” a ship before taking ownership.

Albert “Jules” Tate, Director of LSU-Alexandria Library, provided a literature review. He noted that it is limited and only really starts in 2002. 20+ articles.

The day ended with a panel discussion answering questions posted during the day.

Going from print to electronic … impact on library buildings

Need to look at community and community needs. Analyze collection. Need to look
at Main vs. branches and needs of the branch community. In looking at how the
library is used. Less can be more, one library cut collection in half, and circ
went up 4 times.

Renovating a 1962 building, where do we start with the renovation and LEED process?

Start with looking at use needed. Will also have to do code upgrades for sure,
and then look at other issues. Codes could include fire code, ADA, asbestos
abatement, local rules, etc. Sounds like a major renovation. Should do a
building study, and use that for renovations like an HVAC renovation. Issues
could also include indoor air quality.

Design computer lab for energy efficiency? What does LEED say about computer conservation?

Laptops use less energy than desktops. Should shut off computer, and use the
energy functions. They also generate heat. Also need to take into account
lighting in a lab. Huge financial savings in shutting off the computer every
night. There is also data that you can save energy by actually unplugging. It is
fine to require a LEED building and to build a LEED building, but there is a
paradigm shift needed to live in a LEED building. How do you get IT &
Janitorial/Maintenance to buy in, and act appropriately? Involve them in the
planning process. The earlier the better… There may be an opportunity to involve
the children about the reason why, and about the building. Use the LEED process
as part of the education of the community.

What is the cost of LEED supervision, and how much does it cost to register an existing building?

On the USGBC web site there is a table. The cost for the Bienville Building was
about $3K for a $3 million building. Depends on the amount of the paperwork. Low
as $5K and as high as $100K for a complicated project by an inexperienced
person. Also depends on inclusion of commissioning and daylight modeling. More
and more architectural firms are delivering green buildings, the cost is in the

In sustaining a green building what will change?

Visit http://www.greenbuilding.com. There is also a webinar from the USGBC found on the web site.

Stained concrete, what if you only want it in certain areas? Does it require any special construction?

It only needs to be clean. You should protect the part to be stained since if it
is dirty or has oils, it will stain differently. It is more slippery when wet.
There is abrasion figure and/or ADA number.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Update LLA Conference

In order to post the "State of the State Library" report, I need to grab some data at work. That will happen on Monday. So stay tuned!

Taming the Elephant, Kicking the Donkey: A Lesson in Politics 101

Vivian McCain started by talking about two indispensible publications which every Library Director should have at his/her fingertips, should use notes, highlights: Louisiana Library Laws, and the Library Director’s Handbook. The first comes from the State Library; the second is published by the Public Library Section of LLA. Louisiana Library Laws is being revised, and while the Handbook was last revised in 1995, and has some outdated information, it is in the process of being revised. The Handbook for Trustees is as critical as the Library Director’s Handbook.

If your library is not fiscally emancipated, the police jury controls the budget and budget categories. Told a story about when she first arrived in Lincoln and the Police Jury tried to control the raises that the Board of Control wanted to give. She joked that politics is “poly” = many; “tics” = blood-sucking parasites.

The Handbook includes ethics, duties of the Board, Police Jury, and Director.

In the Handbook, it says that one of the first things to do as a new director is to get to know your staff. Politics are about relationships and communications. It is important to know the strengths of your staff. Five personality types:

-Lobbyist is a person who has an agenda, energy, and a drive. They can be so focused on one thing that they do not see the big picture.

- Big talker makes big promises but never keeps them. They have great ideas, but never deliver.

- Negotiator maneuvers behind the scenes. Often they are sneaky and underhanded. They can get stuff done.

- Loyalist always wants to work with their friends or group.

-Pollsters “drift with the wind.” They give very limited feedback.

This can help you understand your staff, Board and Police Jury. You need to find out for yourself the strengths and weaknesses of your library staff.

Former Illinois State Librarian said that “we never talked about politics in library school.” Your success in politics determines your success as a library director.

Franklin Library is in an renovated Albertson’s grocery store which opened in 2004. There is 22,000 square feet of undeveloped space. Since Vivian arrived, programming became more important. They need to, and are ready to build a new meeting room. A police juror arrived at a meeting unannounced, and that the police jury wanted to build a convention center for the CVB. The deed states that only a library can be in the building or the previous owners can take the building back at $1.99 per square foot. The 3-year battle took its toll, including on the juror, who was voted out of office. The compromise is that there will be a library events center which includes displays, dividable meeting room and genealogy room. There is also a catering kitchen. Lesson learned is not to be complacent. Director will attend every police jury meeting and every police jury committee meeting. Whenever a meeting was missed, the library wound up on the agenda, or had an action taken which affects the library. [There is no such thing as a “retired politician.” There is no way of telling who they are allied with and who they are advising.]

Personal integrity is critical; honesty is the best policy. However, it is also important to be kind, and at other times, you just need to be quiet. Concentrate on what you can control. You can sometimes influence with all of the information gathered and well presented. There are some people out there who are just plain mean and nasty, don’t take it personally.

Toot your own horn. Let them know what you do, and how well you do it. Let the Police Jury take credit for whatever they want – as long as they leave the library alone.

Pick your battles. Some are more important than others are. Decide which is which.

Keep your sense of humor.

You need to know your peers, the other library directors. Read the electronic discussion lists, read the professional literature. Ask your colleagues for advice and help. The State Library is invaluable as well. They provide assistance. The State Library knows who else may be in the same situation, and there is a great deal of moral support available from both colleagues and the State Library.

There are also some very good people in politics, unfortunately, the “bad apples” often overshadow the good ones.

Politics are everywhere. Unless you are so rich that you never have to work for anyone else in life, you will have to deal with politics.

The media can make you or break you. It is possible that the paper is looking for something to exaggerate. It sells papers. Never say anything aloud that you do not want to see in print, and never say “off the record.” That is just a red flag to a reporter.

Thank you notes are a big political thing. It is worth it in the long run to write a personal, handwritten thank you note go a very long way. Get to know the local reporters. Be social and personal so you can talk with them about something other than the library. The thank you notes should be not just to the media, but to whomever has done something for the library and for you. Vivian sends personally written Christmas cards to every single person who comes to a library program (she starts in July).

Get involved in your community.

Louisiana Library Association Conference 2009

Thursday, Friday and Saturday, I have been at the Louisiana Library Association Conference in Baton Rouge. My original plan was to blog this as I have other state conferences in the past. Thursday and Friday I took copious notes, created and edited Word documents, and saved them to my work laptop. I saved notes from my last Friday session and headed to the awards.

There was no wi-fi in the conference part of the hotel (I am near registration and at the State Library booth now).I saw a guy using a laptop and asked if he had access. He said yes, I opened my laptop and got "the blue screen of death." So....it goes to the IT department on Monday, and I'll post this morning's session in a moment. For the next two hours I am at the State Library booth.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Reading/Listening Patterns

It is probably not obvious if you read using an aggregator, but my reading/listening patterns have changed a great deal recently. While I always enjoyed listening to books, my last two jobs had such short drives, that it simply was not practical. However, in my new position, I drive about 90 minutes each way, every day. In addition, the State Library of Louisiana has a great collection of books on CD. So, I regularly wander downstairs to pick up a title or two. (I don't listen on tape because my car does not have a tape player, just a 6-disc changer.)

So, if you visit the blog itself, you will note that while I have read eight (8) books so far this year, I have listened to another twelve (12).

How do I choose? Well, the collection is organized in acquisition order, so browsing is "interesting." Generally, I look for things that I would not normally read in print. Therefore there is more non-fiction, even though this spring has been pretty heavy non-fiction print reading. I also tend to choose titles from vendors which I recognize and remember from my past -- Recorded Books and Blackstone Audio are among my favorites -- because I know that it will be a quality production with good narrators.

That is it for now. Tomorrow I go to a Louisiana Library Association pre-conference, and then two days at the conference. Look for some increased blogging. (It will help me focus.)

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Electing Judges

I was driving this morning and finished listening to the book I had on CD, so I switched to NPR's Morning Edition. One of the stories was about when a judge should recuse him/herself and a case being argued in the US Supreme Court today.

I was amazed to hear that there are over 35 states where judges are elected. Maybe it is my naivete from having lived so long in states (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island) where the judges are appointed by the Executive Branch and confirmed by the Legislative, to think about this. However, judicial election signs have sprung up in New Orleans.

But then I remember the election in Wisconsin last April. It was a pretty mean and dirty campaign. In composing this, I found a new web source, "Judgepedia" which has an interesting overview of the upcoming Wisconsin election. There is a long discussion on the Judgepedia page about some of the discussion of the pros and cons of judicial appointment as opposed to electing judges.

Maybe this was in my "scope" because yesterday I read the latest issue of "Deliberations Newsletter" from ALA's professional Parliamentarian, Eli Mina. While the newsletter is not archived on his web site (that I could quickly find), let me quote what resonated with me upon hearing the judge story on NPR:
Sometime ago I sat in as an observer at an orientation session for a newly elected municipal council. The guest speaker was a former mayor and an experienced politician. He provided useful advice, but there was something he did that annoyed me: Every few sentences he would insert phrases like: "and this will help you get re-elected" or "this is one thing you definitely cannot afford to do, even if you know it's needed, because it will surely undermine your ability to get re-elected" and, to cap it all: "every decision you make over the next three years must be guided by one key question: will it get you re-elected?"

Apparently I wasn't the only one who was annoyed. I was delighted to hear the newly elected mayor finally interrupt the speaker and make this refreshing statement: "Sir, I can assure you that getting re-elected is the last thing on my mind and I believe on the minds of my colleagues. With all due respect, we ran for office to help make a difference for the community of today and the community of tomorrow. We have a lot of work ahead of us, and we cannot afford to be distracted by the fear of not get re-elected. This whole thing is not about us as individuals, but about what we do collectively to advance the interests of our community." I had to resist the temptation to shout: "Hurrah !!"
Thinking about running for re-election and electiong judges, certainly puts the Supreme Court case in a different light!