DC During Shutdown – Part 2

DC – Epilogue

US Capitol DomeThe shutdown entered its third week.  On October 15th, DC city government opened as usual, and paychecks for city employees went out as scheduled. Frustration about congressional inaction continued.  How long would this go?

On October 16th, Mayor Vincent Gray and his peers in Maryland and Virginia held a press conference at the John A. Wilson Building (our City Hall)  in downtown DC. Each of them explained how the shutdown impacted their respective jurisdictions and called on Congress to act. It will be some time before the final tally on the economy both here in the DC area and the country at large.

At last, the uncertainty ended after 16 days. Congress voted to end the shutdown and reopen the government, DC’s budget was included. Permanent budget autonomy, however, hasn’t been granted.  Mayor Gray has expressed disappointment about the matter.

It’s over–’nuff said!  I’ll leave the media commentators and editorial writers to it…

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DC During Shutdown – Part 1

US Capitol DomeFor the first time since 1996, the federal government shuttered October 1st.  When that has happened in the past, D.C. city government closed down too. Why?  Because the city receives direct funding from the federal government, it is treated as if it is a federal agency.

This time, Mayor Vincent Gray announced he would use the city’s contingency reserve funds to keep the city government in full operation, good for 2 weeks, granting an exemption from the federal shutdown. In the 1995 and 1996 shutdowns, this option wasn’t available.  (Both times, DC city employees were able to return to work after a few days)

As the days wore on, the Mayor became worried as the fund became low.  On October 9th, while Senator Harry Reid was winding up an afternoon press conference, Gray went to speak with him on the Capitol steps after doing his own press conference not far off. D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton was also present.*  Their conversation was on candid camera for the local evening news.  At the White House later that day, she spoke with President Obama about DC’s budget.  As of this writing, nothing has yet to materialize.

For this blog post, these are my observations of the shutdown on the city.  With local and national media outlets covering the shutdown, I’ll leave it to them.  The “Washington Post” started a live blog for shutdown updates.

October 1st

On Tuesday morning, we opened with extended hours system-wide.  Phone calls come from patrons asking if we are open.  (Yes, until 9 pm!)  When I arrive for the evening shift, there are few patrons.  As the day continues, more arrive.  An evening yoga class bustles in.  As the week progresses, more people are taking advantage of our new hours.  For example, there’s an increase in room reservation requests for this month into the next.

The morning commute

On Monday morning (9/30) driving down I-270 is slow going. The traffic reports on WTOP take a few minutes to call since many major roadways in MD, VA, and DC are experiencing heavy volume and problems.  Once I’m in the access ramp to Shady Grove Metro station, I quickly pick up speed at last. On Wednesday morning, it appears to be no worse than usual.  In some stretches, I’m driving slow, others are at speed. I don’t have far to drive to locate a parking space in the Shady Grove Metro station garage.  Usually I’m on the 3rd or 4th level.  On the platform, the half the volume of the commuting crowd is waiting.  As a new week begins, traffic still is heavy in spots.  Because I leave home early on Friday (10/11), I miss the trucker protest convoy on the Beltway later that morning.

Cleveland Park/Woodley Park

On Connecticut Ave in the mornings, there’s a steady volume of traffic through the Cleveland Park area heading for downtown. (Not so much outbound)  It doesn’t appear to have been much of a change. People are still out and about during the daytime. While walking to the Woodley Park Starbucks location on Friday morning (10/4) I see the gates at the National Zoo are closed with large signs posted.  There are several Zoo police officers on duty and restricted admission to the parking lot next to the main entrance.  When I drive by on my way to Saturday evening Mass at St. Thomas the Apostle Church on Oct. 12th, there’s light foot traffic in that area.  Some people are sitting outside the Starbucks and other eateries.

Penn Quarter/Chinatown

DC Public Library Book PlateOctober 7th: I have a mandatory training at MLK Library that morning. As I come off the Metro at Metro Center station, I observe there are half the number of people transferring to the Blue and Orange lines downstairs or leaving the station.  Outside on the street, it’s lighter foot traffic.  Later, as I walk to Lawson’s for lunch, I see fewer food trucks parked along 12th & G St. by Macy’s (formerly Hecht’s).  Business hasn’t been great for them.

Closing note–Oct.13th: The “Post” reports that city has enough to pay city employees on October 15th.  If nothing is done, no guarantee about the next paycheck.

* Note: As a non-voting representative for DC, Delegate Norton is only allowed to speak on the House floor.  She can vote in committees which she’s a member.

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Funding Public Libraries – Dissertation

(Please share with Library Trustees, Library Staff, and Library Fund Raisers)

By Hartwig Pautz~  University of Strathclyde

How should we fund our public libraries?  Compatibility of income generation with library ethos

Woman_readingPublic libraries, it seems, are in financial trouble everywhere. At the same time, they are expected to do more and for more people. If library revenue from taxes is drying up – what can public libraries do? They can try to generate additional income from their existing services and from new services, specifically established to make money. But are these income activities compatible with what public libraries stand for? Do charges or fee-based services violate the principle of free access to information for everyone? Would the principled rejection of charges and fees just speed up the end of the public library and is thus obsolescent at best, and dangerous at worst?

For my Masters dissertation in Information and Library Studies at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland, I would like to hear the opinions of public librarians – including library assistants, managers and fundraisers if working for public libraries – on these questions. My aim is to develop a better understanding of what income generation activities are used by public librarians and what they think about the impact on these on the public library ethos. Does direct sponsoring help the organisation or does it erode its ethos and principles? How about user charges, do they sit well with public librarians? And do public libraries have targets for income generation? These are examples from the set of ten questions that are on my e-survey which is directed at public librarians in the US, the United Kingdom and Germany.

I am hoping that the outcomes of my research will help librarians addressing financial difficulties and building stronger institutions while defending principles and ethos.  All results of my study will be made public on the University’s open access repository at:  http://strathprints.strath.ac.uk  . I will disseminate the results as widely as possible also through further open access channels.

So, I am asking for your help for my research. Please take the time and follow the link below to a short electronic questionnaire; it should not take more than ten minutes to complete. The survey is anonymous and nobody will be identifiable.

SurveyLink:  https://strathsci.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_9BtLwndmU9nPQ6p

Everybody who is working in a public library context in the US, the UK and Germany is welcome to take this survey – be they library assistants, library fundraisers or managers.

Please do not hesitate to contact me via prb12163@uni.strath.ac.uk or hartwig.pautz@arcor.de .

Thank you very much for your help!

Hartwig Pautz

Postgraduate Student in Information and Library Studies
University of Strathclyde
Department of Computer and Information Studies
E-mail: prb12163@uni.strath.ac.uk
Dissertation supervisor: Alan Poulter (alan.poulter@strath.ac.uk)

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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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Our Debts

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nd, forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors . .

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The American Library Association (ALA) provides data regarding Student Loan Forgiveness. The ALA’s introduction to the process of getting student loans forgiven, however, begins with this message:

  • Public libraries and schools across the nation are experiencing a dire shortage of librarians, as an alarming number of librarians are reaching the age of retirement.

Genthe-LibrarianOf course, there is no dire shortage in public libraries or schools. Public libraries have closed branches, reduced hours, and even outsourced management. School librarian positions have been eliminated with a movement towards automated learning centers.   The fact that many librarians are reaching the age of retirement does not mean that they can afford to retire – many have spouses who lost employment during the economic downturn and retirement portfolios have suffered losses and retirement benefits have been reduced. There are librarians who have had no pay increases for years and are just trying to get by.

The ALA’s misleading statement  creates an expectation of new graduates that employment opportunities are plentiful. Is it wishful thinking? An attempt at self-fulfilling prophesy? A marketing strategy to emphasize the value of the profession? A marketing strategy to continue to fill library graduate schools? It is hard to understand how a professional organization that supports non-biased critical information analysis would publish and maintain such a misleading representation of employment prospects. However, the result of creating an oversupply of MLS graduates has pitted new librarian vs old. It has led to an expectation that librarians should simply step aside because they are old and *should* retire - completely devaluing lifetime learning and cumulative wisdom.

The 2012 United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics reports :

  • Employment of librarians is expected to grow by 7 percent from 2010 to 2020, which is slower than average for all occupations.

  • Most librarians need a master’s degree in library science.

  • 2010 Median Pay – $54,500 per year

Bureau-of-Labor-Statistics

Contrary to what ALA says, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts growth at half the rate of *all other occupations* and less that half the rate of Education, Training and Library Occupations overall. Note that the anticipated growth in employment opportunities is 7% over ten years – less than 1% per year.  As a statistical estimate with a margin for error this means that there, in fact, could be negative growth.

Yet, even though the Master’s Degree is required for *most* to be a librarian – without the Master’s Degree in library science the job outlook is even bleaker.

The ALA APA adopted a resolution in 2008 that full-time professional librarians minimum salaries would be set at $41,680.  Many full-time librarians still make significantly less.   In fact, even the minimum full-time professional salary is less than the living wage estimate required for a household with one adult and one child in Rhode Island.

Unfortunately, in order to complete a master’s degree that may lead to a $41,680 a year professional job, most students will also have to go into substantial debt.  According to FinAid.org  in 2012  71% of graduate students will complete their degrees with a cumulative average of $53,727 in undergraduate and graduate student debt.

A twenty year fix rate loan for $53,727 requires a monthly payment  of $354.57 for a total of $85,097.86.   The take home pay at the minimum full-time professional salary level without state tax or dependent deductions is: $34,970.58.   So, repayment of the loan to complete a master’s degree in library science could represent over 2 1/2 years of full-time work.  That burden of debt means that it may take at least twenty years before being able to begin to save for any sort of retirement.

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aying Down Your Debt – You can be forgiven!

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The graduate student debt problem in Library Science was brought home by Library Director Michelle Mears of the Public Library of Enid & Garfield County in Oklahoma with her posting on Publib December 12, 2012. Ms. Mears also provided an option for loan forgiveness that every new librarian with federal loans should adopt as soon as they find full-time employment.  Your debts can be forgiven for the valuable public service you provide in ten years instead of 20 or more :

I wanted to get the word out to those who may be unaware of their eligibility for student loan forgiveness through the federal government.  Working full time in a public library makes you eligible for this program. http://www.studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/charts/public-service  If you are eligible, you need to get certification documents turned in right away, even if you are still working for the same employer or have only had one employer, and get one from each qualified employer since October 2007.  Your loan will likely transfer to a different servicing company who will keep track of qualifying payments.
I just certified my first five years, which leaves me only 5 to go (120 payments total), but this will likely forgive the balance of my loan when I get there.  Remember, with interest you end up paying back more than what you originally borrowed, but this program will probably save me about 5 years worth of payments.  Ten years seems like a long time to be in repayment, but any forgiveness is better than none.  I just wish they would have back-dated it because I have already been paying for 14 years (which means I have paid nearly $58,000 on a $38,000 loan and have yet to make a significant dent in the principal-only recently have my payments been gnawing away at it).
Hope this helps someone, or at least gives them hope that someday a month will come with no student loan payment! ~ Michelle

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Happy Holidays to All from Best of Publib!

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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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halloPublib Topics – A Graphic Retrospective – October 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 October 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 Publib.  Publib and Fwd were deleted from the plaintext files before processing. In addition, the Wordle program automatically disregards articles, conjunctions, and prepositions.
 
Some of the more viral discussions included: Public Library Halloween Celebrations,   Ethical Question  regarding employee time at conferences,  Self-Published Titles Study Room Polices , Maximum Fines ,  and Unwelcome Patrons in Children’s Area .
Publib Topics October 2011

Publib Topics October 2011

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

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Publib Topics – A Graphic Retrospective – August 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 August 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 Publib. Publib and Fwd were deleted from the plaintext files before processing. In addition, the Wordle program automatically disregards articles, conjunctions, and prepositions.
 
 
Publib Topics August 2011

Publib Topics August 2011

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Publib Topics – A Graphic Retrospective – February 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 February 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 Publib. Publib and Fwd were deleted from the plaintext files before processing. In addition, the Wordle program automatically disregards articles, conjunctions, and prepositions.
 
Publib Februrary 2011

Publib Februrary 2011

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Publib Topics – A Graphic Retrospective – January 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 January 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 Word Cloud January 2011

Publib January 2011

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