This Week in Best of PubLib 9.27.09

Best of Publib Current Topics and Archivesweekly update

This week  in  Best of Publib covers the week of September 20th through September 27th. The last week includes fanciful discussions about library ecology, thought provoking discussions about FLSA and short story collection development, continuing discussions about cell phones,  and even a song about Quiet Libraries. Some of the topics we will be reviewing include:

  • Topic - Quiet place and other strange ideas about libraries – Are modern libraries really quiet work places or is that another myth?
  • Topic Fair labor standards - Sharon Foster offered an employment survey testing FLSA exempt status – Should you be getting overtime?
  • Topic Banned books week is upon us –  Please see Elisa Babel’s excellent article in BoP.
  • Topic - Cell phones create demand for a modern cone of silence – Should we Get Smart and install these?
  • Topic - Asking library users to leave if they have H1N1  – And,  should libraries stock supplies such as masks to inhibit infections?
  • Topic - What about a Skype phonebooth? Can we offer more with less? How would this affect patron use of phone booths? Would there be a resurgence of heros?
  • Topic Pseudo children, the Shoe Syndrome and library card replacement – they could be twins but might they also be clones? 
  • Topic Short stories – who reads them, who wants them, and where should they go?
  • Topic -  ‘Patriot’ Act news from Diedre Conkling – parts of the act are due to sunset – should they?
  • Topic -   Darla Wegener offered a humorous parody of Bjork’s song  It’s, Oh, So Quiet  set to the modern public library ecology.

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The Publib Archives

The Publib archives from the Webjunction  listserve are available here:  Archives  

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“Sign This Permission Slip”

With Banned Books Week at the end of this month, I’m reminded of a little permission slip from my sophomore honors English class.featured article

In late summer 1998 my dad and I went to a new/transfer student orientation night at my new public high school.  (Over the summer we had moved to Maryland because of my dad’s job transfer) While speaking with my sophomore honors English teacher, she told us about the novels that we’d be reading during the semester. (We were on a block schedule) One of them was Arthur Miller’s The Crucible.  She added that a permission slip would be required to read it because the play was on a list of titles containing objectionable material; this list was maintained by the county board of education. 

“What’s this? A Huck Finn deal?” my dad asked.  He had read the play for an English class at his Connecticut public high school in the early 1960s. This was a first for me too. The only objection about reading material that I’d heard was why I was reading novels beyond my grade level at my parochial K-8 grade school in South Carolina.  My teacher explained that several years earlier, a mother had been convinced there was witchcraft in the play and complained to the county board of education.  What a contrast over time.

            The late Arthur Miller wrote his third play The Crucible in 1953 against the backdrop of McCarthyism in the US.  (In 1956 he was called to testify before the Committee of Un-American Activities and refused to testify against his friends)  The play is set in 1692 Salem, MA and is based on the accounts of the infamous witch trials.  Several Salem girls accuse some of the town’s citizens of witchcraft to cover up for some mischief.  The accusations eventually spread to include prominent citizens. (Just like the McCarthyism period, there were plenty of accusations and hysteria)  Bearing false witness against thy neighbor indeed!   John Proctor, one of the townsmen, is confronted about an earlier adulterous affair with one of the girls—leading to a moment of high tension towards the end of the play.  As for historical accuracy, Miller took several dramatic liberties as he explains in the preface to the play.  He later wrote the screenplay for the 1996 movie of the same name, starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Winona Ryder.

            Later that semester I brought home the play and the required permission slip.  Dad looked at it and signed, commenting on the absurdity of it.  As my class read the play, I failed to see what was with the complaint of witchcraft.  I thought the play had a few important lessons for today’s society.  After we read the play, we saw the 1996 movie which follows the play well.

Later in college, I went with a few friends  on an organized evening trip to historic Salem, MA during Halloween weekend.  As we walked about the town, we saw the building where the witch trials had occurred.  Seeing the Salem Witch Museum helped me better visualize the setting.

            At one time or another, we’ve read something that we have not liked or disagreed with the content.  We should be able to read what we like, not have others tell us what we can or cannot.  Like my dad, I thought the permission slip was a pointless exercise.

Elisa

 

The Arthur Miller Society has information about the late playwright, The Crucible, and his other works.

For those planning to visit Salem, MA, there’s plenty to see beyond the Salem Witch Museum.

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This Week in Best of Publib

Best of Publib Current Topics and Archivesweekly2

This week  in  Best of Publib covers two weeks – September 7th to September 19th. PubLib was being upgraded by OCLC/Webjunction on September 13th. The last two weeks include fanciful discussions about library ecology, thought provoking discussions regarding LSSI,  evaluation of Better World Books , staff cell phones,  and how to effectively weed old librarians. Some of the topics we will be reviewing include:

  • Topic - Florida Librarians Fight Back Against LSSI –  Obviously, someone thinks libraries are profit centers. Why else would they sue?
  • Topic Needing Librarians – What role should Librarians have in national debates? Can we still help facilitate critical thinking or is reasoning a thing of the past?
  • Topic Pulling the Plug –  Should a bill be enacted to eliminate old librarians?
  • Topic - Funny Names for Patrons –  Learn the stories of Old Smeller, Peter Pan,  Generals Hershey Bar and Wastemoreland. Did they have nicknames for us too?
  • Topic Safelink –  Are there ‘free’ cell phones and airtime sponsored by the government?   Apparently, libraries are supposed to help with this.  IRS and FCC outlets?
  • Topic Philadelphia Free Libraries –  This venerable institution initiated by Dr. Pepper was in danger of closing.   Supporters came though and the library was saved.
  • Topic The World is Flat –  Local government  functions are being downsized and outsourced. What is next for Librarians?
  • Topic - Staff Cell Phones –  Do staff members need cell phones to function or is it a  myth  of marketing ?  Should you hear me now?
  • Topic - The 62-Cent Solution from the Reminiscences of Joe Schallan, MLS  –  How does one cope with the priviledged patron?
  • Topic Current Events  –  The national political discussion spills over to Publib. Should Librarians participate in those discussion?  

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The Publib Archives

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This Week in Best of Publib

Best of Publib Current Topics and Archivesweekly2

This week  in  Best of Publib includes some elegant and thoughtful discussions on filtering products, the future of Libraries as presented by CNN, tracking problem patrons, and the ever-popular sewage in libraries – some of the topics we will be reviewing include:

  • Topic - Discontinuing Fax Service – How has this service evolved or devolved? What is the future of this technology? Just the fax ma’am.
  • Topic CNN on Libraries – The future of libraries is being ‘investigated’ by CNN – but is this really investigative journalism or biased pandering?
  • Topic - Cataloging Advance Reader Copy ARC – How should uncorrected advanced reader copies be cataloged? Should they?
  • Topic - Barracuda Filters and Others –  Blocking patron access and blocking spam – how well do the filters work? Filters ?- we don’t need no stinkin’ filters!
  • Topic Circulation on Multiple Floors –  What efficiency is lost or gained from providing circulation services on multiple floors?  Taking checkout to a higher level.
  • Topic - Have Advanced Reader Copies been Hit by the Economy?  Are advanced reader copies being replaced by electronic versions? What does this mean to reviewers?
  • Topic - Tracking Problem Patrons –  How do we balance the privacy issues of patrons against the need to maintain order?  What methods work the best?
  • Topic – Children’s library on the second floor – How well does this design work for children, their parents, and the library? Is it a good design? Hazards?
  • Topic - Sewage back-ups – Should libraries remain open while raw sewage creeps through the building? 

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The Publib Archives

The publib archives from the Webjunction  listserve are available here:  Archives  

Please note – there was an absence of Friday Humor by Joe Schallan this week, or maybe it just did not go through.  To offset, liberal use of Joe Friday references were made in this update.

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