Library Carpet Cleaning

Warning – Very Mundane Topic Ahead!

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In my Library Director days, the custodial staff did an fairly good job keeping up with making sure that the floors were cleaned.  We were mostly low-pile commercial carpet and ceramic tile.  When the carpet got overly soiled, we would bring in the name-brand vendor  – to haul in their hoses and ‘steam’ clean the carpet.

Carpet Salesroom

Carpet Salesroom

Although I thought the carpet *must* be clean since ‘steam’ meant that allergens would be neutralized, I was never satisfied with the results.  There were always traffic lane stains, fading and we would have to effectively be shut down while hoses were dragged through the building.  Then, the floors might take several hours to dry, the surface stains that were removed would leech back to the surface, and people walking on the wet floors would leave an even worse cattle trail.  If the carpet did not dry fast enough, there would be a stench.  And, if they used a deodorizer – which they charged extra for – it had a overpowering smell.

I own a floor care company now specializing in commercial carpet, hardwood floors, and ceramic tile. My research into the methods used by the big floor care vendors showed the most customers are not satisfied for the same reasons I articulated above.  The technology being used is based on those companies investing in truck-mounted systems that shoot hot water into the carpet and vacuum it back up again.  They carry around hundreds of gallons of clean and dirty water, heating it on-board and rely on doing the work as quickly as possible to recover their investments.  It *was* state-of-the-art 20 years ago.

But, technology has changed and there is a much better, greener way for you to maintain your floors, keep them clean, neutralize allergens, restore the pile, and allow you to go much, much longer before you ever need to think about replacing your commercial carpet.  The problem is, the big vendors do not promote it because of their on-going investments and it does not seem to offer the same benefits.

Commercial carpet is low-pile and usually stretched then glued down to a floor.  The idea that you would actually ‘steam’ clean effectively is both misleading and a misapplication.  If the water coming through the hoses that are ‘steam’ cleaned was hot enough to qualify as steam, it would melt the glue and cause the carpet to buckle.  In fact, the carpet is not ‘steam’ cleaned, it is simply spray cleaned with what *may* be some fairly hot water and then vacuumed up again.

The appropriate method for cleaning commercial carpet is *low moisture encapsulation* or VLM.   Low moisture encapsulation is done with a random orbital machine with fiber pads followed by a microfiber or terrycloth bonnet.  A sulfactant is applied with the fiber pad along with a polymer.  The sulfactant releases the soil and stains and when the solution dries any remaining soil is bonded to the polymer which becomes brittle and vacuums away – eliminating allergens and other debris from the carpet. House_Dust_Mite In the process I use, the only chemical that requires listing is a small amount of isopropyl alcohol which evaporates away in the process.  It is an excellent, cost effective and green alternative to traditional carpet cleaning.

The result is carpet that is usually completely dry within an hour, can be walked on immediately, stains are gone and do not leech back to the surface, and the pile is raised again – leaving a fresh, clean scent of tea-tree oil.  The carpet actually repels soil and can be maintained at about 92% of its original condition.

Vasnetsov_samoletIf any of you are thinking about replacing your carpets, I highly advise that you first seek out a local vendor that is proficient in VLM (very low moisture).  The cost of cleaning commercial carpet this way is usually 10-15% less than the steam cleaners and the results are extraordinary.  It will save you money and make your library environment much healthier.

The VLM process we use does work and it works very well.  It is simple applied physics and chemistry.  We usually do a free demo to show people how well it works. And, it becomes one of the weirdest spectator sports.  Old stains disappear that no one thinks will go away! We won an award for our application to this twenty-year old carpet in an automobile display area.  They did not believe we could restore it:

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Who Let the Dogs Out and Who Left the Dogs In?

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Who Let the Dogs Out?

Who left the dogs out?

Who let the dogs out?

On April 17th, 2012 Elizabeth Sensabaugh with the Blacksburg Library in beautiful western Virginia near the Appalachian Trial  system asked Publib:

We have a library facility that is positioned near a popular walking trail. This means that folks want to stop in at the library and leave their dogs leashed outside (to a bench, bike rack, building column) while they check out materials. Recently, we’ve had some concerning situations with unfriendly dogs (potential bite situation) or, at the very least, the dogs have been barking constantly while their owners were inside for long periods of time.

I’m curious to learn if any of you have experienced anything like this with your libraries? Do you have a policy or Code of Conduct that addresses this?

Our policies involve patrons not bringing their dogs inside the library, but don’t necessarily deter them from bringing their dogs on library property/grounds and leaving them unattended. Usually this is a safety concern o an issue of disruption or obstructing walkways/sitting areas, etc. Thanks in advance for any opinions or information about your experiences!

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And, the Publib chorus responds:

We have a city ordinance that only service dogs are allowed in public buildings (including the library) and the owner must produce documentation when asked if there is any question about whether or not it’s a service dog.

If dogs and their owners are a problem or may become a problem check your city’s ordinances about dogs and public buildings. You may be able to post a sign saying “Only service dogs allowed. City Ord. ###” ~ Cindy Rosser – Waco McLennan County Library – Waco, TX

Can you set up a dog parking area like the ones they have in Denmark?

~ Betsy Vera – Gail Borden Public Library

We’re in a similar situation and our solution was to post a sign outside the front entrance that says “No unattended dogs”. When someone does leave their dog, we call animal control. (Their office is right next door so they usually respond quickly.) We’ve done that for a few years now and the problem has dramatically decreased. We took a hard nose approach after a young boy was bit by a dog tied to the bike rack. ~ Carrie Valdes- Grand County Public Library – Moab, UT

Perhaps I should look into getting a ‘no unattended dogs’ sign. The same day I was trying to deal with the growling, unattended dogs, there was a large group of people having a smoke break beneath our ‘no smoking’ sign on the other side of the library. :) It was nice to be able to point to the sign and gently remind them that they’d need to smoke elsewhere. A sign for unattended dogs could be useful in the same way. I’m very afraid that someon is going to get bitten. Your library having had that experience tells me that it’s not an unwarranted fear! ~ Elizabeth Sensabaugh – Blacksburg Library – Blacksburg, VA

Welcome to the Library!

Welcome to the Library!

Elizabeth, Most of the libraries I’ve worked in were right next to parks, so this has occasionally happened to us as well. I would treat this situation just like I would treat someone with a rowdy kid. Rather than make a policy, I’d address people individually. I’d explain to the owner (as kindly as possible, of course) that the animal was disruptive and couldn’t be left tethered and unattended. This includes taking up a bench (someone who wants t0 use it might be allergic) or taking up the bike rack (a kid might need to get his bike but be terrified of dogs).

I might recommend them bringing a partner to sit with the little guy outside next time. Or separate trips to the library. Some people get really angry, some understand once you point out the above scenarios. Either way, I stand firm and address it every time. If it becomes an ongoing issue with one customer, I’d start progressive discipline (although that hasn’t happened). As an aside, it always amazes me that people don’t seem to really KNOW their animals. I’ve heard lots of people say that their dog won’t bite, or their dog doesn’t misbehave. HA! It’s almost as bad as a helicopter mom…MY kid is a genius! My dog is super nervous and weird and I go to great lengths to walk on the other side of the street and keep him away from other people and animals. I don’t think he would bite someone, but I’m sure as heck not taking a chance!

I also don’t get it that they think it is ok to leave their pup all alone like that. What if some sadistic pre-serial killer was walking by??? And, how about some sensitivity to people with irrational (or rational, who knows) fears or severe allergies? As a dog owner, I think about those things and it baffles me that others don’t. ~ Terry Ann Lawler – Palo Verde Library – Phoenix AZ

Then there’s the whole question of whether it’s even legal in a given state to leave a dog unattended, tethered or not, on public property. And if, as sometimes happens, people park their dog for hours while in the library, what are the humane law implications for the animal who may or may not have shade and drinking water? To consider the dogs for a moment longer, there are more than a few people who would have no problem tormenting a dog. They visit libraries from time to time, whether we like it or not. ~ Kathleen Stipek – Alachua County Library District – Gainesville, Florida

Undesirables

Undesirables

We don’t have a policy specific to dogs, but we do have policies related to undesirable patron behavior. While I haven’t had to state it to any dog owners, the one which addresses “any behavior that endangers the safety or health of themselves or others” would be applicable. What I have said to one dog owner was that his dog was making people uncomfortable. I then asked him to move it.

We haven’t had a lot of dog parking problems since I’ve worked here and I haven’t been told of any from before. I think people in this community just accept the dogs and walk around them, for the most part. I happen to be the primary “dog person” here and have been known to suggest one of the local training organizations…

That all being said, I think I’ll show the dog parking photos that Betsy sent to my director to see if we can have something like that installed.Happy tails!~ Susan J. Hoppe –  Virginia Public Library

Thanks for your reply Susan. I really appreciate that catch-all phrase of “any behavior that endangers the safety or health of themselves or others”! I’m a huge fan of dogs too, and want trail users to find using the library a convenient thing to do! But I am worried about the few owners who seem disconnected from the threat that their dogs pose to children or other people. Also, obstructing the entrance/book drop/seating areas is just so inconsiderate!~ Elizabeth Sensabaugh –  Blacksburg Library – Blacksburg, VA

I had a similar situation with a dog that was tied to our bike racks for a long time on a really hot day. It turned out that our city had an ordinance that said that dogs needed to be leashed and “in control” of their owners – we were able to use that to tell the patron that they couldn’t leave the dog tied to the bike rack unattended because the owner wouldn’t be in control of the animal. You might want to check to see if you have a similar ordinance.~ Paula Wright – Appleton Public Library – WI

What rodent problem?

What rodent problem?

In my state, even snakes were considered service animals. Any legal animal could count. Someone finally put a limit on it. The challenge is when the service animal is for comfort when the person has a social anxiety or similar disorder. But obviously snakes freak out a lot of other people, so they can cause a lot of problems. To me, this is akin to the discussion on cats. I’m allergic to cats and the idea of a library cat drives me nuts. (Right now I’m getting over asthmatic bronchitis due to a bookstore with a cat. I can’t ever shop there again.) There are people who are allergic to dogs as well. And putting on my lawyer hat for a minute, if the library doesn’t kick the dogs out and the dogs bite someone, then the library will be sued as well as the owner. (Retired lawyer.)- ~ Judy Anderson

My library follows WA state guidelines which diverge from the ADA requirements. I’d check with your attorney before making a determination. http://hum.wa.gov/FAQ/FAQServiceAnimal.html ~ Carlie Hoffman  – Spokane County Library District  Editor’s note:  ADA Guidelines set a minimum standard – your State laws and local ordinances may exceed those minimum standards.

So far, in my library career, I have had someone claim an iguana, a boa constrictor, several birds, a rabbit and various cats and dogs (including puppies who couldn’t possibly have been trained and pocket dogs with little rhinestone tiaras). I’ve learned to take it all in stride and to kick out anyone who poops on our floor.

I have had the issue of someone claiming an animal to be a service animal when it appeared to be totally untrue. While it is true that if they say it is a service animal, it IS a service animal, all service animals are still subject to our code of conduct, just like all people are. In fact, all visitors period. If an alien comes in, I’m going to address her noisy behavior. I have NO qualms about kicking out a service animal if it is behaving badly. This includes: Barking Sniffing people Lunging Yanking their owner back and forth around the library Running/Jumping/Climbing Growling or hackles up for any reason

Or any other behavior that makes our library a non-welcome environment for our other users. I do EXACTLY the same thing I would do if someone had a kid doing those things (or was an adult doing them). They get a warning and then they have to leave the 2nd time I speak with them. I will be as kind as possible, but just because your dog is performing a service for you, it cannot disrupt other library users. ~ Terry Ann Lawler –  Palo Verde Library – Phoenix AZ

The ADA has a handy list of FAQs at http://www.ada.gov/qasrvc.htm One of the interesting things this says is: 3. Q: How can I tell if an animal is really a service animal and not just a pet?

A: Some, but not all, service animals wear special collars and harnesses. Some, but not all, are licensed or certified and have identification papers. If you are not certain that an animal is a service animal, you may ask the person who has the animal if it is a service animal required because of a disability. However, an individual who is going to a restaurant or theater is not likely to be carrying documentation of his or her medical condition or disability. Therefore, such documentation generally may not be required as a condition for providing service to an individual accompanied by a service animal. Although a number of states have programs to certify service animals, you may not insist on proof of state certification before permitting the service animal to accompany the person with a disability. Soooooooooooooooooo, basically, if they say it’s a service animal — it’s a service animal…….~ Jacque Gage –  Joplin Public Library – Joplin, MO

Here are the revised requirements for service animals: http://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.htm

Archie is a member of the Warrior Transition Brigade Service Dog Training Program which was created to meet the needs of service members and veterans with psychological and physical injuries

Archie is a member of the Warrior Transition Brigade Service Dog Training Program which was created to meet the needs of service members and veterans with psychological and physical injuries

One major change is that: Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties.

Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA. In short, service animals must be: 1)Dogs 2)Trained 3)To do work or tasks directly related to a disability. 4) That trained work is not just providing comfort or emotional support. I think the 2 questions are capable of determining whether or not a dog is a service animal. Before this change in 2010, we had a patron claiming his spider collection as service animals (for emotional support).~ Jacob Browne – Jefferson County Public Library – Lakewood CO

Beginning on March 15, 2011, only dogs are recognized as service animals under titles II and III of the ADA. In addition to the provisions about service dogs, the Department’s revised ADA regulations have a new, separate provision about miniature horses that have been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities http://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.htm ~ Dusty Gres –  Ohoopee Regional Library System – Vidalia, GA

I have read that cats can alert their owners to impending seizures (seizures in the human, not the cat). ~ Kevin O’Kelly  – Somerville Public Library – Somerville, MA

If animals could speak, the dog would be a blundering outspoken fellow; but the cat would have the rare grace of never saying a word too much. ~ Mark Twain

If animals could speak, the dog would be a blundering outspoken fellow; but the cat would have the rare grace of never saying a word too much. ~ Mark Twain

Who sues whom when I die from anaphylactic shock in reaction to your seizure-sensing cat? ~ Nikki Ehlers – Humboldt Public Library – North Humboldt, IA

We had an issue with a patron in a wheelchair who brought her service cat with her on her lap. It’s been awhile, but as I remember, the cat was supposed to alert the woman to changes in some sort of internal functioning. We never saw the cat do anything. It was a *very* mellow cat. I’m not sure I ever saw it move. Our attorney advised us not to question her about it because of the protections afforded by the ADA, as noted by Kate Mutch. ~ Deb Messling – Phillipsburg Free Public Library – Phillipsburg, NJ

I know dogs make me feel better!~  GiGi Bayne

“We have discovered that many doctors are telling their patients that they can call their pets “service dogs” if the pets make them “feel better.” There have suddenly in this area been a plethora of purse puppies riding in grocery store carts and sitting in book bags.” This is actually addressed in the ADA regs: Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA. As others have mentioned, although you cannot ask for documentation, you can ask what specific tasks the animal is trained to perform. ~ Carolyn Rawles-Heiser -Benton County Public Library – Corvallis, OR

We have discovered that many doctors are telling their patients that they can call their pets “service dogs” if the pets make them “feel better.” There have suddenly in this area been a plethora of purse puppies riding in grocery store carts and sitting in book bags. There is a serious issue with insurance coverage. The certified service dog is covered. Others are not, and it is the library who is liable for any problem. You can require that the dog be on a leash & under control, on an individual basis you can ask for shot records & city license/tag, require the dog to be clean/groomed and deal with other safety and health issues. Thankfully, we have not had to deal with the other legally defined service animal — miniature horses — but I am certain it will happen. ~ Dusty Gres Director Ohoopee Regional Library System – Vidalia, GA

This has become an issue in our town. There’s a gentleman who claims that his dog is a “hearing” dog. He does not have an apparent hearing problem, the dog has not been professionally trained (in fact, it’s not all that well-behaved in general), and based on some of the other things this patron has told us, we do not give much credence to his stories. (And then one could ask, does he really need a hearing dog in the library?) ~ Ann Perrigo Ann @ Allegan

By jove, all dawgs are hearing dogs! Of course, he’s a hearing dawg, and a buddie too! And sense he’s a hearing dawg, he is welcome to come into the library, naturally. :-) Cheers, ~ Shannon Williams – Longview, TX

Aren’t service animals required to be certified? Check with whatever agency performs certification. Your state or county agency that serves the blind and disabled is a place to start. A hearing-impaired person would require a service animal to alert his/her user when someone wants to pass, or in case of an emergency to get out of the building. ~ Sue Kamm

I highly recommend “Until Tuesday” By Luis Carlos Montalvan – A Veteran and the service dog that saved him and their continued advocacy and education about service dogs. ~ Kate Mutch –  Natrona County Public Library – Casper, WY

Beginning on March 15, 2011, only dogs are recognized as service animals under titles II and III of the ADA. In addition to the provisions about service dogs, the Department’s revised ADA regulations have a new, separate provision about miniature horses that have been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities ~ Dusty Gres

And horse manure makes for excellent compost. ~ Kathi Kemp

Miniature horses as service animals? I would love to see our library filled with tiny little horses. We could train them to do useful tasks for staff as well.

A real Saint

A real Saint

We have a kids’ program where some dogs are brought into the children’s area and the kids “read” to them. I popped my head in this week to see what that looked like. A lot of poor, long suffering dogs, lying helplessly whilst having board books thrust in their faces so they can look at all the nice pictures. Very small children molesting dogs much larger than themselves, and using them as beanbags/jungle gyms. Parents smiling benevolently and taking lots of pictures.

I swear, when this one big St. Bernard cross looked at me, if he could have spoken, he would have begged me to find him an avalanche somewhere so he could get out of there. But he just lay there on his mat, patiently, listening to the “story” and allowing himself to be battered by a board book and a two year old. I’m fine with the animals. It’s the people who worry me. :o) ~ Jo Choto – Frederick County Public Libraries

http://www.gainesvilletimes.com/archives/58692/ Someone sent me this link . ~ Nann Blaine Hilyard – Nann @the library in Zion, Illinois

I’ve been campaigning for a library hippopotamus for years ~ Kevin Okelly

Mr. O’Kelly’s comment had me thinking of a line that funny Christmas song-“all I want for Christmas is a hippopotamus.” : ~ Elisa Babel – Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library – Washington, DC

A library hippopotamus! I love it! Thanks for the morning giggle. And you’re not the only one leaning toward the hippo biblioteca. Here’s what a quick google-image search for “reading hippopatamus” and “library hippopotamus” netted:

 ~ Audrey Jo DeVillier- Iberville Parish Library – Plaquemine, LA

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Publib Topics – A Graphic Retrospective – November 2011

Beware Graphic Content Ahead!

 
This graphic image  or word cloud was created using Wordle. It is derived from the subjects and authors of postings in PubLib for November 2011. The size of the graphics is directly related to the number of un-weighted unique occurrences each month of the individual words represented. Most automated graphic processes that generate these types of word clouds use additional weight for H1 – H6 tags through feeds. These graphics are not processed with H1 – H6 tags. The titles and authors were copied to Notepad and stripped of all HTML before being run through the Wordle Java platform. The process is case-sensitive so Library is not the same thing as library.
 
The most prominent word without employing filters would have been PublibPublib and Fwd were deleted from the plaintext files before processing. In addition, the Wordle program automatically disregards articles, conjunctions, and prepositions.
 
 
Publib Topics November 2011

Publib Topics November 2011

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Archives compiled after Dec. 7, 2011 are available here: Archives

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White Christmas

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Best of Publib ChristmasThe Great White Christmas Debate 

     or 

Have a Very Merry Something

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Librarian Debra Hiett queried the Publib List:

My adult planning librarian wants to show  the movie, White Christmas,  pass out lyrics for a sing-a-long, serve eggnog, hot chocolate and snacks. She wasn’t sure if it would be against library protocol, relating to a particular religion. I don’t think  White Christmas  is a religious movie and told her to go for it! (we do have a movie license)

Have any of you been challenged for anything similar to this?

To which the Publib Chorus responds:

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Nann Blaine Hilyard : Deb, I’d be more concerned that you have a public performance license to show the movie (or any movie, for that matter) than about the content – though White Christmas is about the secular holiday rather than the religious one.

Tom Cooper  : White Christmas seems like a pretty secular movie-and the song, unless I’m mistaken, was written by one of our greatest Jewish-American songwriters, Irving Berlin. Kind of a multi-cultural package in itself. I wouldn’t worry about it, but I don’t know your community. 

 James Casey  : And don’t forget that Danny Kaye (Kaminsky) was among the most popular Jewish-American stars of all time.   Although it is considered to be among the most famous Christmas movies, White Christmas is probably as much a Veterans Day film and generally appropriate for the November-December holidays.   The hardened, super slick show business performers show their reverence and appreciation for their old commanding General suffering hard luck after WWII.  There are plenty of unemployed Iraq-Afghanistan war veterans right now who might enjoy such a film where military service is shown affirmation and respect.

Darcey Mesaris  : You do need a license to show White Christmas. I believe that it is covered by MPLC-unfortunately, you can’t purchase a one time license from them, unless that has changed from the last time I checked with them. So, you would need to purchase a one year umbrella license.

Darcey Mesaris  : I work and live in a fairly religious area of the country. We are showing  Miracle on 34th Street ,   The Great Rupert  and  A Christmas Carol , with no objections from the community, at least no known objections at his point. 

Steven M Grochowsky  : So… *each* program held at the library must appeal to everyone?

Mnemosyne

Mnemosyne in Pagan Green

S Epstein   : I cannot speak to your library/regions policies or feelings about programming related to religion.  If you town/board doesn’t mind – it would not seem to be an issue.  That being said, if your town’board is an area that is sensitive to such issues – you should be prepared with a response.

But the real reason I’ve replied here, is that I’ve read the other responses and I am stunned.

White CHRISTMAS is NOT secular!!!!  Christmas is NOT, in any way under any circumstance a secular holiday!  EVER.

As librarians – please, please, please learn and understand this for those who are NOT Christian and do not celebrate Christmas! – Of which there are multiple groups ALL over the country (Muslims, Jews, Pagans, Wiccans.)

Diedre Conkling  : I think that it is not necessary to have every program for every group.  I don’t think that was the point.  I think the point was that Christmas is a Christian holiday.

That is not necessarily a problem.  It use to bug me that everyone seemed to assume that we all celebrate Christmas.  I don’t.  It is not part of my religion.  However, I have become more relaxed on a personal basis and just look at it as a folk or cultural holiday.   I give my friends who do celebrate the season gifts (and I give gifts on the gift giving holy days in my religion) and I eat their goodies. So these days I am less frustrated when everywhere I turn people are wishing me a happy, merry, fun, etc. holiday or Christmas.  Still, it should be recognized that it is a Christian holiday.

S Epstein  : I did not say that.  In fact – I said – check your local policy and do whatever you please :-)

What I am saying is to remember what things are.  Christmas is never secular.  

If we start calling Libraries, bookstores – there will no longer be libraries.  Librarians will be madder than wet cats when a library is called bookstore!  Rightly so – imho. Not all places with books are the same thing.
Not all holidays are secular.

Pamela Johnson  : Christmas is a cultural, rather than a religious, holiday for many, many people. In every public library I’ve worked in, we’ve had a tree and decorations for Christmas. Never once has a non-Christian complained about it. And I worked in one branch with a substantial non-Christian population. The only complaints I’ve had that relate to Christmas come from Christians who are offended because a member of staff wished them Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas.

 Jesse Ephraim  : 

>Christmas is never secular.

Easter Bunny Day

Easter Bunny Day

Just to be accurate, it is, for many people.  In fact, much of the imagery associated with it is pagan or secular in nature.  The same is true of Easter.  For example, I’m not Christian, but I celebrate  Santa Claus Day  and  Easter Bunny Day.  My home decorations (for both holidays) aren’t religious at all.

How Christmas decorations are viewed by non-Christian patrons is another matter.  I just object to saying that it is NEVER secular.

 >Still, it should be recognized that it is a Christian holiday.

I’m going to play the devil’s advocate here…

Many of the traditions, decorations, and means of celebrating Christmas have pre-Christian origins, and were absorbed into the Christian celebration as a means of making the process of Christianizing pagan cultures.  Some of those things have been absorbed into secular society, now, and have been “reclaimed” by neo-pagans.  The part of Christmas that is primarily Christian is the celebration of the birth of Jesus.  The rest of it came later, often from non-Christian or secular traditions.

It is a Christian holiday, but it is also a secular one.

Paula Laurita  : If the neo-Pagans have reclaimed aspects of Christmas, that doesn’t make them secular.  It makes them religious.

My staff is still dealing with the fact that there is no tree until after Thanksgiving, with the understanding it stays up through January 6th.  If we’re going to have a Christmas tree it stays up ALL THROUGH Christmas.  (Insert-evil-Catholic-plotting-to-take-over-the-world-laugh-here)

They now know that if someone mistakenly suggests having a Harvest Festival that I’m going to refuse to get nekkid, paint myself blue, and dance around a bonfire.  I’m not that evil.  They are more than welcome to do so if they can get the permits.

Joanna Price  : Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ- it is not a secular holiday. It can be celebrated in a secular fashion (see: American consumerism), but that does not make it a secular holiday.

Mary Soucie  : Since you have the license, I don’t see it as a problem as long as it fits with your community. We decorate both our libraries with Christmas decorations and do not get complaints. We also decorate for Halloween and Easter and Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and Independence Day and….. I do think that you need to match programs to your community and certainly not every program will appeal to all patrons.

You can buy a one-time license through Movie Licensing but if you’re going to show more the 3-4 movies a year, it usually makes sense just to get the annual license.

Christmas is both a Christian and a secular holiday. For Christians, it is certainly a religious holiday. For many non-Christians, it is a secular holiday and they just enjoy the other side of the season- the gift giving, cookie eating, Santa waving fun. For me, Christmas is very much a religious holiday. I have a Jewish friend whose mother-in-law goes all out with the non-secular part of Christmas from a trimming a tree to hanging stockings to Santa images everywhere.

I like Diedre’s attitude of accepting the parts of the season that make sense and not getting upset if someone wishes us a  Merry Something.

Kevin Okelly  :  I have  been pleasantly surprised at how civil this discussion has been.  It’s a Festivus miracle.

Charles Dickens

The Dickens you say

I am trying to get people to call it  Charles Dickens Day, without success. The modern Christmas celebration was invented by Dickens (with a little help from Prince Albert).

I expect my campaign to rename Christmas will meet with as little success as my campaign to get people to answer the phone by saying  Ahoy-Ahoy like Alexander Graham Bell did.

 

jjohnson at worthingtonlibraries.org  :  Alexander Graham Bell AND Montgomery Burns

Craig Haggit  : Yes, the “fist-fights in the parking lot” won’t come until the PLA Convention in March!

  ALPL  : I’ll bring the wine and folding chairs!  Screw cap wine only, we don’t want pointy objects around.

  Robin Shtulman  : However we want to define Christmas or secular, or religious, or pagan, it is important to recognize that Christmas is not a universal holiday, and that not all of our staff or patrons celebrate it.

Whether you choose to offer Christmas themed programming should be driven by whatever your library’s policies are.  Some libraries embrace all holidays in a spirit of community education, some opt to observe no holidays in an effort to remain neutral. Do what feels right for your community, be responsive to your staff & citizens, and just know that everyone thinks differently and do what needs to be done to make members of your community truly welcome in your library.

 Brock Peoples  : This is a great answer to this discussion. (Also, as someone else has pointed out, bonus points to all for the civility!)

The town my district is located in decorates for Christmas, including a nativity set on public property. “What feels right for your community” would make us amiss if we ignored the holiday. It is always important, though, to realize that not everyone shares warm and fuzzy feelings about Christmas, or may have very different traditions from the rest of the community. 
 

Bryan Bonfiglio  : Ahoy-Ahoy! everyone.
Just to keep this going, here are some more interesting facts about the date of Christmas and how it was chosen based on similar pre-Christian celebrations. Enjoy!

Attis in the Louvre

Attis in the Louvre

Roman Pagan Religion: Attis was a son of the virgin Nana. His birth was celebrated on DEC-25. He was sacrificed as an adult in order to bring salvation to mankind. He died about MAR-25, after being crucified on a tree, and descended for three days into the underworld. On Sunday, he arose, as the solar deity for the new season. His followers tied an image of Attis to a tree on “Black Friday,” and carried him in a procession to the temple. His body was symbolically eaten by his followers in the form of bread. Worship of Attis began in Rome circa 200 BCE.

Greek Pagan Religion: Dionysus is another savior-god whose birth was observed on DEC-25. He was worshipped throughout much of the Middle East as well. He had a center of worship in Jerusalem in the 1st century BCE. Some ancient coins have been found in Gaza with Dionysus on one side and JHWH (Jehovah) on the other. In later years, his flesh and blood were symbolically eaten in the form of bread and wine. He was viewed as the son of Zeus, the Father God.

Egyptian Pagan Religion: Osiris is a savior-god who had been worshipped as far back as Neolithic times. “He was called Lord of Lords, King of Kings, God of Gods…the Resurrection and the Life, the Good shepherd…the god who ‘made men and women be born again'” 5 Three wise men announced his birth. His followers ate cakes of wheat which symbolized his body. Many sayings associated with Osiris were taken over into the Bible. This included:  23rd Psalm: an appeal to Osiris as the good Shepherd to lead believers through the valley of the shadow of death and to green pastures and still waters
Lord’s Prayer: “O amen, who art in heaven…”

23rd Psalm

XIII Psalm

Many parables attributed to Jesus. Worship of Osiris, and celebration of his DEC-25 birth, were established throughout the Roman Empire by the end of the 1st century BCE.

Persian Pagan Religion: Mithra was a Persian savior. Worship of Mithra became common throughout the Roman Empire, particularly among the Roman civil service and military. Mithraism was a competitor of Christianity until the 4th century. Their god was believed to have been born on DEC-25, circa 500 BCE. His birth was witnessed by shepherds and by gift-carrying Magi. This was celebrated as the  Dies Natalis Solic Invite,  The Birthday of the Unconquered Sun.  Some followers believed that he was born of a virgin. During his life, he performed many miracles, cured many illnesses, and cast out devils. He celebrated a Last Supper with his 12 disciples. He ascended to heaven at the time of the spring equinox, about March 21.

The Babylonians celebrated their  Victory of the Sun-God  Festival on DEC-25. Saturnalia (the Festival of Saturn) was celebrated from DEC-17 to 23 in the Roman Empire. The Roman Emperor Aurelian blended Saturnalia with a number of birth celebrations of savior Gods from other religions, into a single holy day: DEC-25. After much argument, the developing Christian church adopted this date as the birthday of their savior, Jesus. The people of the Roman Empire were accustomed to celebrating the birth of a God on that day. So, it was easy for the church to divert people’s attention to Jesus’ birth.

http://www.religioustolerance.org/xmas_sel.htm

Patricia Sutherland  : I have to agree with the ‘pick and choose’ perspective on Christmas.  After having lived in, and recently returned from, 4 years living in a conservative Middle East country, I am much more relaxed with how we ‘celebrate’ what are commonly thought of as religious holidays.  Santa Claus, trees, decorations and ‘Christmas Dinner’ events dominated the retail and recreation scene once Eid Al-Adha was over.

The library is a place of inclusiveness and diversity.  Holding Christmas-themed library programs shouldn’t be an issue, but it would be great if we also recognized, and provided a learning environment, for other cultural-based and religious traditions as they occur throughout the year.

Just my two (Canadian) cents LOL

Helen Rigdon  : I’m super happy to see that Festivus has made an appearance into this conversation.  Now that’s a holiday!

Per the fist fight viewing, I’ll bring the cooler!

Party on!

S Epstein  : First – let me say thank you to all of you who have written me off list with words of support and encouragement. 

Second, let me also apologize to those of you who were supportive, and I snapped at a bit – while this is not excuse, it is explanation –  I was snappish because…

Third, some people have saved their incivility for private. And to those of you – I say shame on you!

Last, I did not address the issue of if the program should occur or not – that is up to the library.

Tituba Teaching The First Act of Witchcraft

Tituba Teaching The First Act of Witchcraft

In this age where Wiccan programs are banned from libraries and jobs threatened if they are scheduled, programs led by Muslims are boycotted, snide comments made by library staff about Jewishish patrons — ALL of which I have heard about and witnessed in my state in the past year – I feel strongly that understanding of, respect for, consideration, and tolerance of religion are becoming more and more important.

I have attended Passover ceremonies – though I am not Jewish.  I have celebrated Ramadan though I am not Muslim. I’ve gone to Maybon festivities though I am not Pagan.

These are not secular holidays simply because I, 5 others 10 others or 10k others celebrate them non-religiously.

I celebrate the 4th of July not because I am particularly patriotic – I’m not, but I LIKE picnics and days off!  That doesn’t and shouldn’t change the reason for the holiday.

The fact that some people who are not religious still celebrate a religious holiday does not make that holiday secular.  To claim that holiday as secular, when it is a religious holiday can be very hurtful to both those
who believe and those who do not.

I am not saying people shouldn’t celebrate – I am saying it is important that people understand what things are, especially those of us who are looked to as knowledgeable.

Paula Laurita  : Su, Let me say ‘thank you’ for reminding us all that there religious basis for a variety of holy days and just because I don’t celebrate that aspect of the holy day doesn’t remove it’s meaning.

It reminds me of a friend who was upset that a rabbi, whom I worked with, gave me a Christmas present.  (A lovely chi necklace.)  He couldn’t ever understand that the rabbi was respecting my faith.  I would never give the rabbi a Christmas present, but did give him Hanukkah presents over the years.

Thank you again for reminding us that respect doesn’t mean denial.

Theyer, Hillary  : I was looking for the right words, and Pamela nailed it.  I’m not religious anything, don’t go to any church, and celebrate Christmas as a cultural holiday. My family’s Christmas traditions came from the Catholic/Christian/Mormon backgrounds of my grandparents, but we celebrated with the tree, presents, candles, singing, Santa, big family meal, new puzzle out on the coffee table, schmaltzy movie on the black and white television, as a family gathering … I mix up particular early Christmas memories with Thanksgiving memories a lot, and usually try to remember if there was a tree in the background to sort them out. 

Gypsies Chorus

Gypsies Chorus

We sang carols because they are beautiful songs, and singing together is fun.  The tree is fun to decorate and smells good.  I knew what the words to the carols meant, and of course knew the Christmas story, but the fact that we didn’t pray or go to church didn’t make a difference in celebrating. I also grew up with a bunch of friends with one Jewish and one Christian parent, and got invited to many Bat Mitzvah celebrations, First Communions, and such.  I knew I was missing the religious part, but was taught well to sit quietly, respect the ceremony, follow the rest of the group for standing/sitting, and know I was there for my friend/relative to celebrate something important in their life. 

Christmas is not a universal holiday.  Neither is Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, etc.  I married into a family with cultural ties outside the US, which makes Thanksgiving a non-issue as my side is the only side that celebrates it!  The keynote speaker at the California Library Association convention made a great deal about arriving from Britain and watching us celebrate Independence Day (his words “get over it already!”).  On the other hand, my English Grandmother couldn’t comprehend I didn’t have Good Friday off from school.  I’ve worked places with and without trees, with and without decoration/program prohibitions.  I used to worry about it, and now I don’t. The only complaint I have gotten was for a Christmas puppet show, and the parent was of a religion that didn’t celebrate holidays of any kind.  She was upset that we didn’t have anything for her child during school vacation, so I handed her the flyer for the “Winter” program where we read snow stories (in Southern California, which I think is a much stranger cultural clash, reading about sledding and such with kids who probably have never done that), and made snowmen out of cotton balls, etc.  She was fine.  I promised we would invite a puppet program that didn’t tie to a holiday again, which we did.  We offer stuff tied to holidays and stuff that isn’t.  I’ve worked with groups that pulled together a Vietnamese New Year Celebration (none of us were Vietnamese but our community was), Chinese New Year, Diwali, and Kwanzaa.  What we didn’t know we learned, and mostly people really appreciated the effort.

A Christmas Furlough

A Christmas Furlough

Jesse Ephraim  : The Santa Claus figure was derived from a number of sources, including Saint Nicholas, Odin, Krampus/Black Pete, various European folk figures, Thomas Nast, Clement Clarke Moore, Coca-Cola, L. Frank Baum, and more.

We are way off the original subject by now, though, so we are probably all going to have to agree to disagree.

Joanna Price  : The problem with this is as follows (I’ll just be honest):

Considering Christmas as a secular holiday is a privilege that belongs to the majority of the United States, because the majority of Americans come from some form of Christian background. I’m not talking about one’s parents, but 100 years ago, there were no atheists.

I come from a Jewish background, and my family doesn’t celebrate Christmas because it’s not a secular holiday– it’s a holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. Indicating that it’s secular, e.g., not religious at all, doesn’t alienate people who celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, and it doesn’t alienate people who celebrate Christmas as a secular holiday. It alienates people who don’t celebrate Christmas at all (i.e. me), because if you argue Christmas is secular, you argue that there’s no reason why I shouldn’t celebrate it (see: be “normal”). In fact there’s a good reason why I don’t celebrate it, and it’s fairly disrespectful to argue that I should consider a holiday that belongs to another religion secular because of the discomfort atheists have with relating their Christmas celebrations to its’ roots.

Now whether a public library should have Christmas programming or not depends on the community, e.g. who is paying taxes that keep the place open, and what their needs and expectations are. But don’t call Christmas secular in order to justify having Christmas programming in your library. It’s not only unnecessary, it’s alienating.

John Wylder  : But “Santa Claus” is just short for “Saint Nicholas,” and even “Kris Kringle,” as I understand it, is a corruption of the German for “Christ Child.”

Xmas in the US has become a battleground of the culture wars, and I fear there is no longer any neutral or safe ground.  Whatever you do will leave you open to attack from one quarter or another, whether you acknowledge the holiday or not, so make your decision and, if I can quote Martin Luther here, Sin boldly no matter what you ultimately do.  Or, as my grandmother used to put it, “You pays your nickle, and you takes your chances.”

 Jesse Ephraim  :

>I’m not talking about one’s parents, but
>100 years ago, there were no atheists.

Sure there were.  There were atheists in ancient Greece, even.

>my family doesn’t celebrate Christmas
>because it’s not a secular holiday– it’s a
>holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ

What does Santa Claus, pine trees, gift-giving, elves, and reindeer have to do with Christianity?

>It alienates people who don’t celebrate Christmas
>at all (i.e. me), because if you argue Christmas is
>secular, you argue that there’s no reason why
>I shouldn’t celebrate it (see: be “normal”).

There are a number of holidays in the U.S. that I don’t celebrate.  I don’t feel any pressure to do so.

>In fact there’s a good reason why I don’t celebrate it,
>and it’s fairly disrespectful to argue that I should consider
>a holiday that belongs to another religion secular because
>of the discomfort atheists have with relating their Christmas
>celebrations to its’ roots.

You can think of it in any way you like.  The point is that it IS a secular holiday for many people, and not just atheists and agnostics.

If you want to talk about the roots of Christmas celebrations, they don’t lie in Christianity.  They are in the folk beliefs and pagan religions of Europe. 

Bryan Bonfiglio  :  Agreed, perhaps not the best Website to quote from, but these facts are repeated and studied over and over in academic circles.

http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/index.php/kingpapers/article/volume_i_29_november_1949_to_15_february_1950g/

Wendy Wright  : Remaining “holiday-neutral” may be less time-consuming for library staff, but consider all the extra circ. opportunities that themed displays offer. Holiday events and displays also keep the library looking “fresh” for regular customers. Why not promote as many diverse occasions throughout the year as possible? While events are not always feasible, a display costs little. I think the film event is a great way to generate a sense of fun and energy in your library, and would be tempted to have displays of other winter holiday materials up at that time if you are worried about any group feeling excluded.

Toga, toga

Toga! Toga!

Two ideas for non-religious themed displays or events at this time of year are the Winter Solstice and ancient Rome’s Saturnalia festival. (Toga party, anyone?) I have two small children, and our family celebrates the Solstice rather than Christmas, but we would hardly expect Christians to suppress visible manifestations of their holiday! I’ve begun teaching my four-year-old Latin and have a foggy notion of using Saturnalia as a way of exploring ancient Roman culture next year while having lots of fun decorating and feasting. I suppose an elementary school library or homeschooling group would be more appropriate for this type of programming… But perhaps in a public library one Storytime in December could have a multicultural “Winter Festival” theme (Christmas, Chanukah, Diwali, Kwanzaa, Solstice etc.), with or without themed craft activities  afterwards.

Any excuse for a celebration, I say!

TARDIFF, ANTHONY  : Yes, I know that the Attis connection, at least, is problematic. Professor Andrew T. Fear of the University of Manchester wrote an essay called “Cybele and Christ” about the relationship between the old Cybele/Attis cult and Christianity. His conclusion was the opposite: that the Cybele cult was influenced by Christianity and that it developed, whether consciously or unconsciously, to be a pagan answer to the dominant religion of the time (Fear, A. “Cybele and Christ.” In Cybele, Attis & Related Cults: essays in honour of M. J. Vermaseren, Brill, 1996). You can find a good portion of his essay at http://books.google.com/books?id=T1nmUY70OzEC&lpg=PA37&dq=%22Cybele%20and%20Christ.%22%20in%20Cybele%2C%20Attis%20and%20Related%20Cults&pg=PA41#v=onepage&q&f=false.

My undergrad is history, and while that does not make me an expert, it did teach me that history is rarely “pat.” Our attitude towards history today seems often to be that it is in the past and so does not matter, unless we can bring up an oversimplified version to support a specific viewpoint. We tend to get a lot of sound bite history these days, History Channel history, “Everyone knows” history (e.g. “Everyone knows Columbus was trying to prove the earth was round”). Actual history is far more complex, nuanced, and, frankly, interesting than that. History once was, after all, the present, and is just as messy and fascinating as the present is today. So I am rather suspicious whenever anyone tosses off some “history” to justify a viewpoint, unless they really delve into it, show their research and their sources, and present a picture that is more than just a blurb.

Robert Ingersoll

Ingersol the Infidel

Jennifer Armistead  :  Not to be nitpicky, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to argue with you that 100 years ago “there were no atheists.” Right off the top of my head, I’m thinking of Robert Ingersoll, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Aphra Behn, Tom Paine, and I know there are many more. It’s true that during the 19th century there was a surge in professed atheism in Western society, as shown in Without God, Without Creed by James Turner, but atheists and agnostics have existed probably since there were humans, and have been documented since early Greek civilization.
Sorry to go OT. Carry on!

Jeff Imparato  : I’m sure it makes my Pagan friends happy when they see the Yule tree, decorated this time of year.

HARMON-MYERS Margaret  : Aside from library involvement, I think there are differences between “celebrating”, observing, or acknowleging .  I am not religious but don’t find offensive, nor would I try to restrict, the observation by others of any religious day.  Christmas is not secular, per se, but it is a deeply entrenched part of our culture; for some it is strictly cultural, for some primarily religious, but one does not preclude the other and both deserve respect.  And religious does not just mean Christian (Jesus’ birth, etc.)

We have personal choice, and feeling offended is a choice.  I don’t want to deny the public arena to a component of our culture, our ethos, because people interpret or observe it in different ways.  The library, as part of the culture, can bring the community together by having something like a giving tree which allows people to take a tag from it to purchase a toy or clothes for those in need.  We can also welcome other community organizations to bring in something for display for visitors to enjoy, or ignore if that is their choice.

Rawles-Heiser, Carolyn  : At my library, the only thing we do for Christmas is the Friends put out some pointsettias and we gather holiday kids’ books–including all the holidays around this time of year.  Oh, and we close on Christmas.

I do celebrate Christmas and I personally consider it a religious holiday.

Poinsettia

However, looking at this from the persepctive of people who do not,  think about what it is like to see Christams decorations, hear Christmas music, see Christmas ads and shows on tv, have stores full of stuff to buy, have Christmas activities at Scouts, school, etc. everywhere you go ad nauseum for at least 1/12 of the year.     For those of us who do celebrate Christmas, it wears thin enough!  

Think how nice it would be to go into one public place that is free of all of that and how much you would appreciate it.  Think about how nice it would be not to have to tell your kids you are skipping storytime for  a month to avoid Christmas programs.      You would certainly feel a lot less marginalized.    It seems to me that as one of the most inclusive and neutral institutions in  our society, that is a valuable thing the library can provide.

Dohrn, Terry  : Look up the definition of the word “Christmas”. Almost everywhere you check you will find that the definition is some variation of “a celebration of the Christian Church commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ”.  

Merry Christmas! I love these discussions we have!

Debra Hiett  : WOW!!!

I am astonished, pleasantly so, at all the responses my question generated.
So far, no one has stated they were challenged for showing the movie, “White Christmas.”

Of course, that does not mean that we won’t!  If we are challenged or receive complaints I will let you know.  We will show the movie, and had planned on showing the movie, and I will keep my fingers crossed.  If we are challenged this group has provided me with lots of ammunition. Thank you for all your postings!

Chris Rippel  : Dear Colleagues,

> 100 years ago, there were no atheists.
Actually, there were a number of atheists and agnostics 100 years ago.

The most famous American atheist at that time was Robert G. Ingersoll
(1833 – 1899).

I think there is evidence that more people and books 100 years ago than now
claimed Jesus was a mythical figure made up by early Christians.

Kevin Okelly  : I don’t know about “more than now,” but the America of the past was certainly a much more religiously diverse place than people currently give it credit for being. As many of you probably know, a number of the Founding Fathers (e.g., Jefferson, Washington, Franklin) were Deists (i.e., theists who believed in a rather hands-off God and rejected the notion of the divinity of Christ.)

Sarah Howison  : 

>We have personal choice, and feeling offended is a choice.

Maybe this is off-topic, but this statement doesn’t seem right to me. It takes the blame from the person who gave the offense and puts it on the offended party.

If someone makes a racist/sexist/off-color joke and it offends me, is it my fault that I am offended, or the fault of the person who told the joke? In a lot of cases, offense is not intended, but it does happen, and when it does, it’s worth discussing. The idea that someone should “lighten up” or just “deal with it” (both comments I have received in the past) is…well, kind of offensive to me. ;)

No, a person doesn’t have the right to go through life without being offended, but they do have the right to express their opinions, including whether something, be it a joke or a certain library program, offends them.

…But, that’s just my opinion. I promise, I mean no offense. :)

chickens

Cluck, Cluck, ClucKEE!

Janet Lerner  :  Hello all,

I haven’t worked in public libraries for over ten years, and can’t believe that you’re still cluck-clucking over Christmas.

No one except the profoundly mentally ill worries about this kind of stuff anymore.

Move on…

Diedre Conkling  : 

> It is sad to see that what was a very civil discussion with differing
> points of view is now leaving that realm and is on the verge, if not
> slightly beyond the verge (can something be beyond the verge?), of name
> calling and uglyness.

Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.  It must be time to end the discussion.

Pamela Johnson  : It’s important to distinguish between offense intended and offense taken. Sometimes a comment is ignorant, but not unkindly meant. If you take offense at every ignorant but well-meaning comment that comes out of somebody’s mouth, you do yourself as well as the other person a disservice.

Bridget Krejci  : Can we please agree to disagree regarding Christmas and programing? We really do not need to hear everyone religions beliefs

S Epstein  : WOW…. this was terribly offensive and insulting.  Enough in fact to make me consider leaving Publib.  I would prefer to not know this is the state of our profession. Or maybe we need to go back to a moderate list?

(Janet – I think an appology is due for calling people who have religious beliefs menally ill – which even if was not your intent – was the message.)

Darryl Eschete  : All: I’d say this discussion has devolved to the point where it is all heat and no light. I’d also say that discussing it any further would be superfluous and that this will become more uncivil, now that this sort of door has been
opened.

Darrell Cook   : Didn’t get THAT message at all. Janet shouldn’t have to apologize for anything. I don’t think her post was any where near “offensive and insulting.” Much less “terribly.”

The only thing terrible here is the PhD’s spelling.

Steve Benson  : I didn’t think it was offensive either — just stupid.  This has been an interesting discussion ranging from the how-we-do-it to historical background.  What is expected and welcomed in one local might get you run out of town in another.  Doesn’t seem as if the writer at issue is a part of the profession any longer.  Her own words make this clear.  Perhaps this is why she has missed the new tech innovation that librarian 2.0’s know off — the delete key if you tire of a conversation.

Happy holidays everyone

Wylie, Alan  : Could have done without the ‘mentally ill’ bit but i do tend to agree with her! Libraries closing or being privatised, redundancies galore and we have a long drawn out discussion about xmas!!!

Judy Anderson  : I found it offensive that someone is using mental illness as an insult. That’s grossly inappropriate. That calls for an apology.I also think some of the “older” librarians (meaning having been around a long time) forget that there are new people out there who haven’t come across the issue before. And laws change constantly and there are trends that change constantly. My first job out of library school was as a director. These issues often aren’t discussed in library school and people need answers.

It’s also helpful to get the take and experience of wide range of people because you never know what will come up. Who would have thought that people respecting other religions (or those with no religion) and avoiding the violation of the first amendment would be considered to be conducting a war on Christmas. That’s a relatively new topic.

And really, we are librarians. It doesn’t seem appropriate for us to be insulting anyone for asking a question we’ve heard before. Isn’t that kind of what our jobs are about, at least in reference?

(Side note. I don’t think it was an attack on people of faith, but an attack on someone for asking what should or shouldn’t be done about Christmas in libraries.)
 

US National Christmas Tree 1923

The US National Christmas Tree - 1923

John Richmond  :  Just back from Kansas for the Thanksgiving holiday, where I worshiped several immense turkeys and a few hams, besides.  Though I saved my most rapturous rapture for pecan pie.  (For some reason, none of my relatives was thoughtful enough to supply mincemeat this year, with or without real meat.  Or unreal meat, I suppose.)  So I am late getting into this, but I am reminded that just about the first post to publib I ever, well, posted–if not *the* first–had to do with Christmas, and I received MANY indignant comments from publib folks who were appalled–**appalled**, I tell you–to think that we had a *Christmas* tree in our library.I *tried* to explain that I was in East Texas, and that not to have a Christmas tree in the library’s foyer would have been tantamount to committing career (my career, that is) suicide, but some still didn’t get it.  Ah, well.  Back here, up north in Illinois–in East TX, usually pronounced “Ill-uh-noiZZZZZZ”–we still have a Christmas tree. We put it to good use, inviting the public to decorate the tree with mittens, gloves, scarves, and hats for child-size people, which we then deliver to a charitable outfit in the library district. Sometimes we call it an “angel tree,” and I am mostly theologically mute on the subject of angels.  Which probably is all right, as the fervor over angels seems to have diminished from what it was a few years back, when *everyone* was writing a book about angels.When I was in seminary, the “Advent police” sometimes came around to see if fellow seminarians were putting up Christmas decorations and listening to Christmas music in their rooms while the all-too-short season of Advent was upon us.  That’s a whole ‘nother story….Shahin Shoar  : Libraries have to have established practices in place when it comes to these things.  Many academic libraries have done away with celebrating any holidays, religious or not, by decorating their buildings, desks, or rooms.  Public libraries could do the same.   However, since we are more and more a community center rather than just a place to read or check out items, we have to reflect what our communities expect or want.  There is nothing wrong with acknowledging Christmas or any other holiday for that matter.  Libraries often have educational and fun programming going on including history of different holidays.  What should not happen is ignoring other holidays which means ignoring people in the community who celebrate holidays other than Christmas.  Yes, academic libraries are over all of this, they serve a different clientele, we still serve little kids who get excited about little things like doing crafts and singing songs.

 

New York Public Library Christmas Tree

Best of PubLib Editor – Robert Balliot investigating the placement of an actual Christmas Tree at the New York Public Library.

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Have a very Merry Something!

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Tea Parties and Terabytes : the Digital Library Revolution

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Tea Parties and  Terabytes  : the Digital Library Revolution

Tea Party

A few months ago on Publib , I entertained the idea of replacing a brick and mortar library with electronic book readers and subscriptions.

Our local free library had spent about $8,000,000 on a library renovation / reconstruction employing grants, local taxes, donations and state funds.  Notably, it had started out being about a 4 million dollar project.   What would 8 million dollars along with yearly operating funds  purchase now?  Could the needs of library users be met with electronic book readers and subscriptions?  Could accessibility be expanded?  

Asking those questions met with sharp disapproval from the librarian in Rhode Island who had overseen the project. She characterized me as a tea bagger – (derogatory slang meaning Tea Party member) for daring to bring up the idea.   At least I think that was what she meant.  The Urban Dictionary has some other definitions that are not very nice.

I'm late !

Why would entertaining a simple idea of how  8 million dollars could have been spent create such a visceral reaction? Public libraries represent the most efficient aspect of local government.  Hardly any library system is a  beneficiary of public largess.  The entire loosely affiliated public library system in the United States is efficient because of internalized ethics, highly trained personnel and sharing.  Sharing resources means everyone benefits.  Sharing is something other public services have never done as well as public libraries. Are public libraries in such precarious shape that civil discourse threatens libraries as the bastions of civil discourse?  Is time running out? Are we too late?

Imagine no brick and mortar library exists.  What sort of digital book access could an initial 8 million dollar investment and a yearly operating  budget of $480,000  afford?  …

$8,000,000  could buy:

 Amazon Kindle . . . . . . . . 57,553 units retail    at $139 each or
 Sony eBook Reader . . . .  62,015 units retail    at $129 each or
 Barnes & Noble Nook . . . 53,691 units retail    at $149 each 

 A $480,000 operating budget could purchase:

Lots of electronic books. The cost of many titles through Amazon’s Kindle program is $9.99 or less. So, yearly new ebook accession could be greater than or equal to 48,000 titles. That seems like a fairly small collection to support sixty thousand ebook readers

The 60,000 ebook readers could also be shared within households. With  2.59 people on average per household – 155,400 people would be sharing only 48,000 titles.  That is less than 1/3 of a book simultaneously available to all readers at once during the first year.

But wait, there’s more, terabytes more:

Amazon also provides Kindle Popular Classics with almost instantaneous free access to over 15,000 books.

Project Gutenberg provides Free eBooks with over 33,000  titles.

The Internet Archive provides free access to massive collections .

The Google Books project also provides free access to terabytes of text and images and is partnering with major libraries around the world.

Digital collections such as the Perseus Project   and Lincolniana at Brown offer a vast wealth of specialized subject matter.

The United States Government along with State and Local Governments are providing more and more public information in digital format.

So, what does that mean?

60,000 households could each have immediately access to hundreds of thousands of free books and articles and increasing access to new books and articles. 

But what about catalogs and reader services?  Doesn’t everyone need catalog help? These collections are HUGE!

The Library of Congress is the largest library in the United States.  The Library of Congress Catalog is massive and serves as the expert resource for copyright.  The Librarians who staff the Library of Congress are some of the most highly compensated in the US. 

Which catalog is intuitively better?

Library of Congress Catalog search:

Here is the output in basic search for the word balliot:   http://bit.ly/fCXAnh

Select item 2 –  CONVAL Report:  http://bit.ly/ijNORk

Using the same search strategy in Google Books:

Here is the output in basic search for the word balliot:    http://bit.ly/faHnAT

Select item 1 – CONVAL Report:  http://bit.ly/gUPu1v

It is even intuitively easier to search within  Library of Congress collections using Google Books full text.  LC requires a copy submitted to them when they formally copyright.  

Full- text of the Copyright Catalog available within Google and not within the LC catalog:  http://bit.ly/gzJf7S  provides reference pointers to LC’s collection.

The HELIN  Library Catalog employs  III encore software and includes: Brown University, Bryant University, Community College of Rhode Island, Dominican House of Studies, Hospital Libraries of Rhode Island, Johnson & Wales University, Providence College, Rhode Island College, Roger Williams University, Salve Regina University, University of Rhode Island, and Wheaton College holdings.

Which catalog is more helpful? 

Here is  HELIN‘s output searching for the phrase Windows Forensic Analysis DVD Toolkit, Second Edition:   http://bit.ly/g8mOa0

Here is Amazon‘s output searching for the phrase Windows Forensic Analysis DVD Toolkit, Second Edition: http://amzn.to/gBpxkZ

Encore tells us that we should use other words and check our spelling. It offers no leads to additional material.  Amazon provided the book, the electronic version, reviews, shots of inside pages and related works.  Some library catalogs intergrate similar features in the user interface, but they are not leading the way.  They are merely following the examples of successful for-profit library catalogs that only recently began to market books.

The Digital Library Revolution

 $8,ooo,ooo in construction expenditures and a $480,000 yearly budget represents the real-world costs of operating a public library in a community with about 22,000 residents and a fairly small collection.  Using the revolutionary digital library model presented here, the same funds would support 155,400  people in 60,000 households while providing instant access to terabytes of digitized collections.
 
The digital library revolution is a radical departure from the way that library materials are contained, published and distributed. Instead of allowing public libraries to disappear from the conversation,  civil discourse should continue that includes public libraries as significant partners and facilitators in the evolution of this digital library revolution.  It is not too late.
 

 “But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.” ~ Lewis Carroll

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Best of PubLib ALA Midwinter Exhibit Hall Review

Best of PubLib at the ALA Midwinter Meeting Exhibit Hall Review

This week,  Best of Publib covered the ALA Exhibit Hall at the Boston Convention Center.   The HD video below includes hundreds of vendor displays.  We hope it will help you imagine the experience if you were not able to attend, or help refresh and reinforce what you learned.  

 
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Boston Convention and Exhibition Center

The Boston Convention Center was an excellent venue for ALA. The train brought us to South Station - just a few minutes away from the hotels and convention amenities.   There are many local publishers and library suppliers within a short distance, so start-ups and unique product suppliers could present affordably.  And, Boston rocks!  The Freedom Trail, Duck Tours , along with world-class museums and libraries are within short distances of the convention center.  

The organizational effort by ALA and attention to detail by the library vendors was outstanding. It was easy to lose track of time on the exhibit hall floor amidst the panorama and noise.  It took on a casino / carnival atmosphere with prizes to win and vendors pitching their games. High above, you could use the Food Court sign as a directional beacon.  

Of all the hundreds of vendors represented, we chose to review five.  

The first is : I-Concepts which defines itself as Innovative Concepts for Nonprofit Organizations.  We could imagine many libraries outside of Boston benefiting from this service, along with fostering a general appreciation of local history archives.  If you are looking for a way to both encourage collection use and raise funds – i-concepts may be the answer. The Amelia Earhart print was fascinating.  

LibraryThing.com/forLibraries

The second  is : LibraryThing. Tim Spalding along with his gregarious black-shirted  horde truly represented the best of Open Source, Library 2.0 and viral marketing. They were eager to engage and highly entertaining.  

The third vendor is : LE@D-Lifelong Education @ Desktop from the University of North Texas   This group was absolutely charming and demonstrated infectious enthusiasm for their services. They dressed in some of the most colorful attire at the exhibit.  Le@D  provides highly affording library training. According to Director – Kevin Haney (in the middle with the green shirt) – costs are as low as $15 for a course! Enthusiastic library training –  Deep in the heart of Texas!  

New York Times

The fourth vendor is: The New York Times offering 50% off Home Delivery Service
 Marketing was conducted by On the Avenue Marketing Group with this excellent salesperson hawking half-price subscriptions. She may have been the hardest working individual in the exhibit hall. Yet, it was somehow troubling that this was the limit of representation of the New York Times publishing empire.  

III

The fifth vendor is: III – Innovative Interfaces Incorporated. III is one of the heavy hitters in the Library industry. Many libraries are dependent on their products and they have  a loyal base. I worked on two transitions to III – the first at Brown University from CLSI and the second at CLAN libraries from Horizon. I have used III for over twenty years and find it offers outstanding service. However, what I observed in the exhibit hall was troubling.  

The III booth was very well-appointed and designed with several interactive product displays. It supported a large group of associates to answer questions. Yet, few were actually engaged in discussions with anyone but their co-workers. A librarian approached two of the representatives to thank III for providing a pass to the exhibit hall. One of the representatives took a look at the librarian’s badge and said something to the effect of :

 “Well ______ must have been giving away those passes all along the east coast, we had another librarian from ____ stop by earlier “.

Then the rep rattled off a few names of people they considered important from that same institution and basically dismissed the librarian. There was no sales pitch. No offer to demo. Merely, a dismissal. 

Library Service, especially in the public library sector, ideally levels the playing field. Service is equal. In contrast, some vendor representatives have obviously been instructed to find out the station of the exhibit hall attendee, determine if they were of the buyer / influencer class and dismiss the others. Yet, the nature of libraries and librarians as technology consumers requires generating interest throughout an organization and getting everyone to buy in. If you have six vendor representatives at an exhibit and you don’t have a crowd around your people, then you should generate interest by engaging everyone.  All of the library vendors were start-ups at one point.   

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The exhibit hall may be the most effective way to get hands on experience with some of the newest and most exciting products in the library world.  The meager twenty-five dollar entrance fee – or having an inside vendor representative hook you up for free makes the experience well worth the visit.  

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Best of PubLib at ALA-Midwinter Update

American Library Association Mid-Winter Meeting

We  consumed the Boston Convention Center exhibit hall today.  Boston is nearly 50 degrees farenheit!  We will feature some of the most interesting  exhibitors and products that we found in a special edition of Best of Publib on January 20th – we have pictures of them all.  But tonight, we dine with Canadians!

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