Libraries at SXSW – We Need *Your* Vote! (bestofpublib)

Please share widely!

By Carson Block

For those who already know (and we love you! :0) the SXSW ~ South by Southwest in Austin, Texas – panel picker is open and we need your vote – here’s the list of library submissions with easy-to-click-links:

http://sxswlam.drupalgardens.com/content/2014-sxswi-lam-proposals

For those who don’t yet know….to shift the perceptions of libraries from a warehouse of books to dynamic places that celebrate ideas, we need to share library innovations far and wide with diverse audiences in unique formats. SXSW Interactive is a major annual gathering of thought-leaders and funders – “fostering creative and professional growth alike, SXSW is the premier destination for discovery.” (Sounds a lot like the library!)

Interactive design and relationship to other fields.

Interactive design and relationship to other fields.

There are a slew of incredible submissions this year proposed by creative library and museum professionals. You can help put libraries, archives, and museums (LAM) at the forefront of this ideas-exchange by voting for LAM presentations in the SXSWi Panel Picker from Aug. 19-Sept. 6, 2013, at http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/.

Below is a list of sxswLAM panel proposals and well as sxswLAM-related panel proposals. You can also do a search by keyword in the Panel Picker for “library” or “libraries”and there are dozens more. If you believe that librarian voices need to be heard, even if you’re not attending, we need your vote to make it happen at SXSWi 2014.

Again, the handy-dandy list of library, archive and museum proposals is here:

http://sxswlam.drupalgardens.com/content/2014-sxswi-lam-proposals

Thanks!

Carson

===
Carson Block Consulting Inc.
Technology Vision. Technology Power. Your Library.
http://www.carsonblock.com

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Best of Publib – January 2013 in Review

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Best of PubLib – January 2013 in Review

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Best of Publib January 2013

Best of Publib Word Cloud
January 2013

This edition of Best of Publib covers the month of January 2013.  Hot topics for the month of January included:

  • Cataloging Local Textbooks ~
    • Debra Bashaw of the McMullen Memorial Library in Huntington, TX asked:
    • How do you catalog cookbooks from local organizations?
  • Lending E-reader devices ~
    • Lucien Kress of the Multnomah County Library asked regarding the DOJ settlements over e-reader accessibility queried:
    • Are you loaning only accessible e-readers, which readers do you loan and other pertinent questions.
  • List Problems ~
    • Amy Mullin of the Austin Public Library wanted to know:
    • Are there technical problems with the list?
  • Playaways ~
    • John Richmond of the Alpha Park Public Libray District in Bartonville, IL pondered and ruminated:
    • “I’m wondering if anyone Out There has changed policies re: what they/you provide with Playaways. And if you took something away, did people holler? (Which, of course, they shouldn’t do, because they’re in a *library*.)”
  • Surveys for the Public ~
    • Elizabeth Thorson of the Laramie County Library System in Cheyenne, WY asked:
    • “Has anyone surveyed the public when facing budget cuts?”
  • Requests by Parents for in loco parentis services ~
    • Beth Hudson of the Walla Walla Public Library in Walla Walla, Washington wondered :
    • Does anyone have a written statement which they provide when a parents asks that you not check out certain items to their child?”.
  • Worst Marketing Idea(s) Ever ~
    • Dierdre Conkling of the Lincoln County Library District reported on ALA OIF’s plan for a sweater vest day to support intellectual freedom:
    • “I think this sounds like fun but I don’t own a sweater vest. Just shows once again that I am not cool. ;-)”

On January 10th The ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom announced their ‘Wear a sweater vest on Sunday, Jan. 27, in support of intellectual freedom!‘ campaign.  If librarians attending Mid-Winter ALA would wear a sweater vest on that day, it would demonstrate their commitment and support of intellectual freedom.

In jaw-dropping, dumbfounded awe I asked:

I am trying to imagine how Judith Krug would have reacted to perhaps the worst marketing idea I have ever seen and the dynamics of a meeting where this idea was proposed and validated. Did no one dare to speak truth to power?

What does a ‘sweater vest’ represent? How the heck does a sweater vest  correlate to *any* form of ‘intellectual freedom’? Perhaps what is most appalling is the obvious lack of intellectual effort it takes to say you *support* intellectual freedom by wearing a sweater vest.

Maybe this will take off along the same lines as ‘Geek the Library’, which seriously detracts from the library mission. Bad ideas, once they are validated, tend to gain their own momentum.

The Emperor's New Clothes

Emperor’s New Clothes

This touched off two discussions on the list – one about the efficacy of sweater vests as statements of intellectual freedom and the other about the importance or impotence of the Geek the Library campaign administered by OCLC.  And, there were the anticipated reactions from some readers who were simply aghast that I would question poorly made decisions by established bureaucracies. :)

Emily Weak who had been promoting a librarian employment site/ blog on Publib asked:

Somewhat off your topic, but I am curious as to how “Geek the Library” detracts  from the library’s mission? Isn’t it about the diversity of resources one can find at the library (i.e. whatever you have a crazy passion for, you can find  materials about it at the library)? Is it that you feel geek has negative connotations?

The Side Show Honoré Daumier

The Side Show
Honoré Daumier

The Geek the Library campaign has evolved into its own bureaucracy supported by grants by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and administered by OCLC.  I have found no empirical evidence that Geek the Library is more effective than any other course of advertising or promotion. In fact, there may be many, much more effective methods.  Anna Cangialosi with the Chelsea District Library did provide a link to an anecdotal case study on Publib.  However, there appears to be no clear data regarding effectiveness. The press release branded by OCLC seems to be yet another self-serving validation for people who self-identify as being a ‘geek’.

Professional librarians have spent years trying to separate themselves from the stereotype of anti-social professional clerks.  The movement to create a new stereotype by branding librarians as Geeks may result in many more years of trying to live down that stereotype.  Why not continue what we were working towards => a stereotype representing professionalism along with informational and intellectual excellence?

Saving Our Public Libraries

Saving Our Public Lbraries

Rather than blindly accepting that a terrible marketing campaign is in your interest and the interest of your library – why not read a book about how you can promote your library? Why not do a critical assessment of what works and what doesn’t? Why not re-engage in library science as a fundamental set of skills?

Janet Jai has written an excellent book that investigates success stories, expert advice and innovative ideas that support library marketing. If you haven’t ordered it yet,  you should order it for your library today: Saving Our Public Libraries  Why We Should. How We Can.

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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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Sometimes a Catalog is Just a Catalog

Sometimes a Catalog is Just a Catalog :

 
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Question: What is the fundamental difference between e-commerce catalog websites such as - HomeDepot, Sears, Amazon, Target, and Walmart and online library catalogs using Horizon, SirsiDynix, Evergreen or III? 
 
Answer: Librarians don’t create HomeDepot, Sears, Amazon, Target, and Walmart catalogs (but they should).
 
Jobs

Working

One of my friends on Publib recently asked me if I thought there were employment opportunities for Librarians in e-commerce and what training would be needed to get a job. 

I think that is a good question to address here with all of the PubLib people.   I am a librarian and I have worked in e-commerce – web design, product development, training, data base management and SEO.  My former employment (after being a public library director) was as a corporate e-commerce manager. I redesigned a 6,000 product e-commerce website, created blogs and alternate websites for its products and within a year had moved it’s US rank in Alexa from about 60,000 up to around 7,000.  I took a year off to complete graduate studies in digital forensics (which I consider directly related to cybrarianship) and recently returned to e-commerce again to manage the databases and organic SEO for an international company with tens of thousands of products specializing in medical equipment and medical supplies.

 
Almost every college, University and technical school has some sort of a degree program now called something like New Media.  The New Media curriculum teaches things like web design, and SEO, and htm*, and programming languages, and social media construction – basically all of this stuff that makes up the web.   But, when all is said and done, what we create in e-commerce is a catalog – a catalog broken down into relevant, related categories with multiple access points and meaningful descriptions – so that the end-user can find what they want and we can get it to them efficiently.  There is a back-end tie to inventory, prices, features, descriptions, shipping, and various temporal factors.
 
traditional librarian

Traditional Librarian

How does that differ in concept from traditional library cataloging?  The argument could be made that traditional libraries do not charge their patrons and the cost / price feature of e-commerce products creates a completely different dynamic.  But, it really doesn’t.  Every professional librarian knows that nothing is free and although there is no direct charge to the patron finding a book in a catalog – the expenses are paid for up-front through Taxes and Tariffs and Fees (oh my!), Taxes and Tariffs and Fees (oh my!), Taxes and Tariffs and Fees (OH MY!).  Every library book has a tangible cost and there is a small markup that accounts for salaries paid to librarians.  The back-end is tied to inventory, prices, features, descriptions, shipping and various temporal factors.

 
The marketing dynamics of library catalogs and e-commerce catalogs may differ since there is no apparent immediacy to having a library catalog pay for itself.  E-commerce is result driven - the only reason to have a catalog is to facilitate sales and educate the consumer.  But, I believe the every librarian now sees how truly dynamic e-commerce web sites that sell books such as Amazon – by the very fact that they do need to see immediate results – have drastically outpaced the big Library catalogs.  So, although the marketing approach may differ, it really, really should not.
 
Soap Box

Soap Box

So, are there employment opportunities for librarians in e-commerce?  Obviously, there is for at least one.  The problem is Corporate America does not know what librarians can do for them. It has been left to me to explain to the company presidents I have  worked with that Libraries are, in fact,  sophisticated and dynamic inventory control systems – that work just like their supply chains.

Library Schools do not even know that they are training people to create catalogs for e-commerce.   But, they should and given the employment growth outlook for traditional librarianship, Library Schools should be touting the ability of their cataloguers to catalog, organize and describe everything.

 
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Palin’s Guides

And now  for something completely different:

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During this brief Labor Day break, I finished watching the series:  New Europe and Sahara featuring the iconic Monty Python actor - Michael Palin.  I am looking forward to watching his adventures Himalaya and Pole to Pole next.
 
The Pythonesque humor interweaved with a wonderful global perspective and a genuine empathy for the human condition offers an excellent counterbalance to the nationalistic drumbeat provided by mainstream news media coverage.  Palin humanizes the human condition. You feel that you have gotten the know the people he visits. Globe trekking to exotic locations has been curtailed by war, media coverage, and economic instability.  Yet, perhaps now more than ever we need to have a first-hand knowledge of those cultures.  Palin’s treks may represent the perfect virtual cultural bridge.
 
New Europe

New Europe

The New Europe series offers a trek through: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Moldova, Romania, Serbia, Hungary, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Eastern Germany. 

For many, many Americans the only understanding we have of New Europe is limited to our participation in wars in Bosnia.  The New Europe series provides important cultural insights about how everyday people go about their lives.

Sahara

Sahara Desert

The Sahara series begins and ends in Gibraltar, Spain with the journey taking place in: Morocco, Smara Refugee Camp (Algeria), Western Sahara, Mauritania, Senegal, Mali,  Niger, Algeria, Libya,  Tunisia. 

In the final episode of the Sahara series, Palin visits the site of his crucifixion in the Life of Brian the city of El Haddej in Tunisia.  

 
 
Every public library should offer the Michael Palin series and Always Look on the Bright Side of Life
 

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Publib Discussions: Public Library Patron Flatulence

 Unconcealed flatulence in Public Libraries

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On Monday Jun 20th the following question on flatulence aka farting and  many, many other expressions  was offered to the PubLib ListServe :

 I have a patron who comes to use our computers fairly regularly to surf the internet.  Another thing he does regularly is to pass gas loudly while using the computer and not thinking anything of it. Does the library have a right to insist that he stop this or does he have a right to perform this “natural” bodily function? He also does not hesitate to belch on occasion. …  He lifts his “cheek” and lets it fly…   Sometimes they just don’t pay me enough.   ~  Sam

Sam did not specify if the repeated offense by the computer surfer was simply noise related or also smell related.  He also did not state a policy on flatulence for staff and trustees. If library staff or trustees frequently expel gas, does it make a noise? 

However, if the issue is merely olfactory inconvenience, Benjamin Franklin in his letter to The Royal Academy of Farting c. 1781 provided some enlightened observations on the occurrence of gas along with a possible solution:

Benjamin Franklin

 It is universally well known, That in digesting our common Food, there is created or produced in the Bowels of human Creatures, a great Quantity of Wind.

That the permitting this Air to escape and mix with the Atmosphere, is usually offensive to the Company, from the fetid Smell that accompanies it.

That all well-bred People therefore, to avoid giving such Offence, forcibly restrain the Efforts of Nature to discharge that Wind.

That so retain’d contrary to Nature, it not only gives frequently great present Pain, but occasions future Diseases, such as habitual Cholics, Ruptures, Tympanies, &c. often destructive of the Constitution, & sometimes of Life itself.

My Prize Question therefore should be, To discover some Drug wholesome & not disagreable, to be mix’d with our common Food, or Sauces, that shall render the natural Discharges of Wind from our Bodies, not only inoffensive, but agreable as Perfumes.

If Ben Franklin had successfully invented a drug that resulted in the patron expelling perfumes, would the expulsion of gas still be considered offending?  If offense is based on  quantity rather than quality of the gas emitted – what means of measurement would be appropriate for setting flatulence limits in a Public Library?

Publib readers offered their own suggestions :

Have you tried the three strikes rule? If you have three patrons in your library who complain about his gaseous behavior, perhaps you can then tell him to stop. Then, if he does not stop, it is your right to remove him from the property if he is being a nuisance to others.  ~ Ford Simmons, MLIS

Perhaps a personalized seat cushion for this person, with an activated charcoal insert??    Just kidding, I guess…. ~ George Hazelton

I just wanted to bring up the possibility that he may have some sort of medical issue (for instance, irritable bowel syndrome) that puts his gassiness out of his control. You may want to consider what you will do if it turns out that he isn’t just being gross and rude, but actually can’t control the need to pass gas. ~ Heather Backman

why dont you just connect him up and use the gas to power the library? ~ Alan Wylie

Are the farts typically the low whistle variety, or more like the puttering of a motor bike? This is just me, of course, but I find that those of a lower register can have a soothing effect, if sustained. And, wouldn’t you know it, they often are sustained. P.S. I find the word “fart” to be off-putting. I prefer “boop.”   ~ Joseph J. Cadieux

Le Petomane performing

Sam, it sounds like you have more to work with here than just his “tooting.” He’s clearly making himself a nuisance, not merely (possibly) having a health issue. He’s driving patrons away from the library with his behavior, which does not make him a benign member of the community. I say start with a short ban with threats of further, longer ones if he doesn’t correct himself.  Brett Rohlwing

We always take the stance that if other patrons complain, the offending patron is creating an unpleasant environment for them and can be asked to stop it. If nobody else complains, you do have a quandary.   Tom Cooper    Editors note: There is historic precedent to pay people such as Le Pétomane to fart.  In absence of complaints – might there even be approval of flatulence as the work of a fartiste ?

Probably qualifies as “offensive behavior” if other patrons complain.  Body odor is “natural,” but we speak up about that in response to complaints.  ~  Darrell Cook

I would even venture to say that you don’t need to wait for a patron complaint. If it’s bothering your staff, that’s good enough.  Manya Shorr

His right to pass gas ends at the end of your nose. If it was a one or two time event, he can be forgiven, but he is intentionally being offensive. Someone with that problem, knows when decorum dictates that he venture into the restroom to relieve himself of the gas.  He is making it difficult for others to use the Library, and thus needs to be asked to leave, and not come back for two days.  If he comes back and repeats his behavior, lengthen the time away. He’ll either get the message, or he won’t have use of his library. Either way, your other patrons (and your staff) win.  Jeff Imparato

Just, of course, proceed with tact. This can be an unfortunate side effect of some surgery ..became a regular thing for my Dad after his gall bladder was removed. Mortified him, so we all sort of pretended it wasn’t happening.It’s a dicey conversation at best, the more so if your patron can’t help himself…  good luck!! Sara Weissman

 A popular culture interpretation of issues surrounding public expulsion of gas is expressed in Fox Television’s animated series The Family Guy:

Public Library Patron Flatulence

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Karen Schneider Tribute

A Tribute to Karen Schneider:  outgoing co-moderator of PubLib

On Sat Jun 18 2011 Publib co-moderator Karen Schneider  announced two major Upcoming changes to the PUBLIB list :

1. Migration of the  listserve hosting from Webjunction to OCLC.

2. Her departure as co-moderator of the PubLib listserve after 15 years of service to the growing Publib community.

Co-moderator Sara Weissman provided Publib with a an overview of some of the many intellectual/  administrative contributions Karen Schneider has made to help develop this dynamic Publib community :

1. PubLib postings by and about Karen Schneider  number over 6000

2. Karen Schneider’s numerous insights include her “Internet Reference Success Stories, job announcements, policy questions  galore, using the Internet for fun and benefit, announcements from ALA and  its many divisions, humorous reference questions, patrons and accompanying  animals, skylights, cafes in public libraries, the homeless, etc., etc., etc. “

3. PubLib subscribers grew from 2,700 to 10,458 strong. 

Nann Blaine Hilyard – Director of the Zion-Benton Library has suggested a fitting, colorful tribute to Karen for her generous contributions to the PubLib community:

To thank Karen Schneider for her years as co-moderator of PubLib, we are going to give her a bookshelf quilt.   If all 10,000 PubLibbers contribute, so much the better—she’ll have a library-filled quilt!  

 By July 31, 2011, PubLibbers are asked to create signature blocks.

Here is how:

  Cut a piece of woven cotton fabric  2.5”  x  5”. 

Any color.

Must be woven.   If there are no sewists in your household or among your colleagues, consider using a a piece from a shirt or a sheet.

No knits.   No textures (no terrycloth or corduroy).

  On that piece of fabric write your name and library or town – however you want to be identified.  (If you use a pseudonym, that’s fine.)

 ♦ If possible use a Pigma brand pen.  (Scrapbookers, quilters, and artists in other media use them.)

Alternatives:  a gel pen, a fine-tip Sharpie, India ink are all okay.

 ♦ Any color of ink is okay.

*DO NOT USE* a Flair, a fountain pen, or a ballpoint pen.

Signature block with margins

Keep a 1/4 to 1/2- inch margin all around the block.   Do not write in the margin (that’s the seam allowance). 

Send the signature block to: Nann Blaine Hilyard, Zion-Benton Public Library, 2400 Gabriel Ave.,Zion, IL  60099 BY JULY 31, 2011.  

If you want to enclose a couple of bucks to defray the cost of fabric, thread, and batting that Nann will use create the quilt, that would be great. 

  Note:  Nann will bring Pigma pens and pre-cut 2.5” x 5” fabric to ALA Annual, so if you’ll be there, find her!   

Nann Blaine Hilyard, director
Zion-Benton Public Library
2400 Gabriel Ave.
Zion, IL  60099
847-872-4680x 110
847-872-4942 fax
www.zblibrary.org.

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A Tribute to Karen Schneider 

World Book Day and Google Book Search

 World Book Day, Copyright, and Google Book Search

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On March 22nd the Southern District Court of New York rejected the Google Books Settlement.  One of the central issues of the Google Books Settlement was the burden on Copyright holders to opt out of having their works digitized by Google.  Instead, the burden is put on Google to obtain rights by having Copyright holders opt in. What does this mean for the extraordinary database Google has constructed of digitized works?  What contents are already available in Google Books?

 On March 16th the World Book Day game was reposted from Facebook to the PubLib Listserve:

  • “It’s that time again – World Book Day. Grab the book closest to you right now. Open to page 56 and choose the 5th sentence. Publish it as your status and write these rules as a comment. Don’t choose – PICK UP the CLOSEST BOOK. Don’t say what the book is about.”

The World Book Day game on Facebook is apparently a derivation of World Book Day as explained here by Judy Turner   :

  • Briefly, the day’s official name is World Book and Copyright Day (also known as International Day of the Book or World Book Days. It is celebrated yearly,except in the UK and the Republic of Ireland where the first Thursday in March was chosen as the date. The commemoration was organized by UNESCO to promote reading, publishing and copyright and was first observed in 1995.

Many PubLib subscribers posted the fifth sentence on the 56th page of the book closest to them on PubLib.    Running the sentences through Google Book Search yielded many of the titles.  Google sells many of these titles through the eBookstore, so it stands to reason that many of the copyright holders would have given permission to digitize.  Do the searches that do not appear represent opting out?  It also stands to reason if the 56th page of a book is available through Google Book search, the rest of the book would also be available.  Does this mechanism of being able to search a book in its entirety still represent fair use?  And, what are the books that were closest to the PubLib readers who participated in the game?

The 56th page fifth sentences follow. The sentences do not necessarily correspond to the 56th page of the edition scanned, but each sentence was available in its entirety:

This is only a test

By similar reasoning, it was held in U.S. v. Jacobsen (1984) that field testing of a white powder uncovered by a private search was no search, as it would only reveal whether the powder was an illegal substance.” ~ Robert Balliot  – Criminal Procedure Constitutional Limitations – Jerold H. Israel and Wayne R. LaFave -2006  – ( Editor: this was not in Google Book Search – is this an example of opting out by Thomson West?)

“Locally crafted of walnut, mahogany, and sometimes cypress, these knobs are identical to examples made in the eastern United States and continued to appear on both bench-made and factory-made furniture through the nineteenth century.”~ Audrey Jo DeVillier – na

“Paul knew that if he meant to make it in show business he had to go ‘down south’, even though southerners had a reputation for being unfriendly and condescending to northerners such as himself.” ~ Mark P. Hasskarl – Fab: An Intimate Life of Paul McCartney – Page 56 – Howard Sounes – 2010 – 634 pages

“Mainly a place for jewelers to pick up stock, ordinary mortals, too, can rummage the sparklers and invest in either loose gems or unique pieces of fine jewelry.”~ Gair Helfrich - na

“”The double hit of having a tendency to form clots combined with an additional element that causes clots can lead to serious problems.” ~ Viccy Kemp – 100 Questions and Answers about Stroke: A Lahey Clinic Guide – Page 56 – Kinan K. Hreib – 2008 – 185 pages

“Like her he scanned the shadows, the deep pits of dark.” ~ Patrice Matujec - na

“And later, after her gentle care, she could see the trusting look in his eyes”. ~ Deb Yoder – A Moment in Time – Judith Gould – 2001 – 323 pages

“What these men had to eat and drink Is what we say and what we think.” ~ Myers, Leigh – Selected poems John Crowe Ransom – 1969 – 159 pages – More editions

“I can do without the snake’s help this time.” ~ Charli Osborne - na

“Like its rival Laphroaig, this [Lagavulin] is a very distinctive malt.” ~ Diane Swint Levin

“Is she awake yet?” ~ Darla Wegener - na

“”We won’t be doing that, Sheriff Barnett.’” ~ Glenda Pate - na

“It’s my mother.” ~ Betsy Cherednik - na

After agreeing to the new, harsher terms, Johnston surrendered his once-great army on April 26, 1865. ~ Melissa Davidson – Insiders’ Guide to Civil War Sites in the Southern States- John McKay – 2005 – 384 pages

When the poet Claude McKay reviewed Shuffle Along for The Liberator magazine, he made a point of praising its all-black production because some black radicals ‘were always hard on Negro comedy…hating to see themselves as a clowning race.’ ~ Kathleen Stipek – Anything Goes: A Biography of the Roaring Twenties- Lucy Moore – 2010 – 352 pages

“Malcolm Usrey called the book ‘a powerful and moving story, made poignant by [O'Dell's] restraint and simplicity, reflecting the stoic, proud, and quiet or passive strength of Bright Morning.’” ~ Donna Olson – Biography Today Author Series: Profiles of People of Interest to … Laurie Lanzen Harris, Cherie D. Abbey – 1996 – 190 pages

The nation’s first nonpartisan African American summit convenes April 21-23. ~ Melodie M. Franklin – The African American almanac L. Mpho Mabunda – 1997 – 1270 page

Glue and clamp together four pieces of 3/4″ x 3-1/4″ x 4-1/4″ stock to form the cab block (B). ~ Michael May - The great all-American wooden toy book Norman Marshall – 1999 – 211 pages

“4 1/2 cups water” ~ Ami Kreider – too many hits - na

“I went to Sedona’, Brenda Answered ~ Carolyn in Glasgow, MT - Fatal Error – Judith A. Jance – 2011 – 368 pages

“It’s true that I may have looked a bit New Agey, but I didn’t really need this.” ~ Margaret M. Neill – One of Our Thursdays Is Missing – Jasper Fforde – 2011 – 384 pages

Beigeschmack m (-[e]/no pl.) slight flavor; smack (of)(a. fig.) ~ Fred Beisser – The Oxford-Duden German dictionary: German-English, English-German – Page 1538  Olaf  Thyen, Michael Clark, Werner Scholze-Stubenrecht – 1999 – 1728 pages

Since then, staff have followed up and worked with them to identify things they will do. ~ Carolyn Rawles-Heiser - na

“”Eileen, achora, I hear someone come tapping.” ~ Cindy Rosser - na

Install A-B-C fire extinguishers in the home and teach family members how to use them. ~ Dianne Harmon – It’s a disaster! … and what are you gonna do about it?: a … – Page 56  Bill Liebsch, Janet Liebsch – 2006 – 268 pages

Finally Ethel walked out on him and went to perform at a Black club called Egg Harbor, then landed at Rafe’s Paradise where the patrons were white. ~ Judy Turner - na

“Dorothy showed him no respect at all.” ~ Erin – Wringer – Jerry Spinelli – 2004 – 227 pages

It was characteristic of not only the Platonic but the Xenophonic Socrates. ~ Bill Manson - na

The very worst poetry of all perished with it creator Paula Nancy millstone Jennings of Greenbridge, Essex, England in the destruction of the planet Earth. ~ Diane Doty – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Page 58 Douglas Adams – 1997 – 208 pages

Those to whom the power of election is transferred must observe the provisions of law concerning an election and, for the validity of the election, they must observe the conditions attached to the compromise, unless these conditions are contrary to the law. Conditions which are contrary to the law are to be regarded as non-existent. ~ Paula Laurita – The code of canon law: new revised English translation  Catholic Church, Canon Law Society of Great Britain and Ireland, Canon Law Society of Australia and New  Zealand – 1997 – 508 pages

“The boy wondered and grieved that she could not eat; and when, putting his arms around her neck, he tried to wedge some his cake into her mouth, it seemed to her that the rising in her throat would choke her.” ~ Brad Leifer – Uncle Tom’s cabin, or, Life among the lowly – Harriet Beecher Stowe – 1852

“Then he heard a rustling sound coming from the kitchen.” ~ Meegan Tosh - - na

“The brigand’s sword withdrew to strike, and Friar Lorenzo sank to his knees in submission, clutching the rosary and waiting for the slash that would cut short his prayer.” ~ Heather Murray - Juliet – Page 56 Anne Fortier – 2010 – 464 pages

The Wee Tods cooried in close, their nebs twiggin, their een skinklin like stars. ~ Gail Roberts - na

“The rep was described as what we termed “UK-6 Aristocracy Dapper-12,” which meant that he had a fine pencil mustache and spoke as though he were from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.” ~ Catherine McCullough Les -  One of Our Thursdays Is Missing -  Jasper Fforde – 2011 – 384 pages

“All the same, she saw him go with regret.”  Betty Neels, The Awakened Heart. ! ~ Carrie Braaten (Editor: not in Google Books but  the line partially repeats – A Good Wife – Page 32 Betty Neels – 2009 – 192 pages – Shall I go up?’ Serena gave him a tired ‘Hello.’She was both tired and very worried, her hair hanging down herback … be along presently,’ he told her, ‘ and I’m sure your brothers will see to everything.’ She saw him go with regret. ..) - na.

“The amount of material on reserve for a course should be reasonable in relation to the total amount of reading assigned for the course;” ~ Kim Rutter - The librarian’s copyright companion – Page 56 James S. Heller – 2004 – 257 pages

“She is not for sale,” the father answered. ~ Marla - na

However, Sebastiano gained his greatest fame after moving to Rome in 1511. ~ Jessica Rogoz - The World Book Encyclopedia: Volume 1  World Book, Inc – 2007 – 22 pages

Most teams don’t have such a complete back; they’re more likely to have one of each, so defenses can take their next cues from the formation. ~ Sandra Ferguson - na

“Provides training and educational assistance to build a productive workforce.” ~ James B. Casey - Illinois handbook of government Illinois. Office of Secretary of State – 2001

I will continue to nurse, ride on her ody, and sleep in her nest for more than six years. ~ Judi Bugniazet - na

box of W’s. ~ Jane Carle - na

“There’ll be lots of little things like this, won’t there?” he says, sliding into the right-hand side of the bed. ~ Meredith Crosby – The Poison Tree – Erin Kelly – 2011 – 336 pages

“Eventually runners, if they survive to their eighteenth birthday, can become more of a liability than an asset.” ~ Carol Sheffer – Channel Surfing with God – Page 56 – Gary Fisher – 2009 – 267 pages

La negligencia en la otorgación del permiso de la minera San José, la falta de control respecto a situaciones precedentes y la inexistent supervisión de sus labores, se mantiene como el principal argumento del gobierno del presidente Sebastián Piñera ante los cuestionamientos opositores por el despido de Alejandro Vio, ex director del Sernageomin y responsable administrativo del desastre. ~ Kathi Kemp - Vivos Bajo Tierra/ Alive Underground: La historia verdadera de los …Manuel Pino, Manuel Pino Toro – 2011 – 272 pages

The child needs to get a job as well, which intensifies time pressure when it comes to studying. ~ Robert E. Perone – Ten minute guide – stress management – Page 91 – Jeff Davidson – 2001 – 192 pages

“And now,” said Susan, “what do we do next?” ~ Deborah Shepherd – The lion, the witch, and the wardrobe – Page 55 Clive Staples Lewis, Pauline Baynes – 2000 – 189 pages

All the lanterns were shuttered halfway so that a cool twilight suffused the air, lending an ethereal feel to the event. ~ Laurenne Teachout -Eldest – Page 56 – Christopher Paolini – 2007 – 704 pages

Boothe Homestead Museum gives tours Tuesday through Friday and weekend afternoons. ~ Cheryl Marriage – Off the beaten path: a travel guide to more than 1,000 scenic and … – Page 56 – Reader’s Digest – 2003 – 384 pages

“An evil prophecy is always fulfilled, if you put no time limit upon it; fulfilled quite readily, too, if you are a child counting little misfortunes as disasters.” ~ Ramona Lucius – The searchers – Alan Le May – 1954 – 272 pages

“Barbara came in bearing a tray of cups and saucers and a pot of hot chocolate.” ~ Deborah McLaughlin – American Taliban: A Novel – Page 56 – Pearl Abraham – 2010 – 258 pages

A rubber imitation softball, for instance, at something over 3″ in diameter, has it uses. ~ Judy Anderson – Musical instrument design: practical information for instrument making – Page 56 Bart Hopkin – 1996 – 181 pages

“In my experience there are three reasons why a boy will want to take out a book on poetry: 1. to impress a girl 2.for a class assignment 3.to impress a girl.” ~ Beth Dailey Kenneth – Bruiser – Page 56 Neal Shusterman – 2010 – 336 pages

“Until it receives a determination letter, the organization is required to file income tax returns and pay the applicable tax.” ~ John Richmond - na

“Some people set up routines or choose cues in order to build these moments of mindfulness into their day.” ~ Joanne Cronin - na

“The fall of communism was the result of a much longer process, and the popular protests were just its most visible, but not necessarily most important, component.”  ~ R.  C. Rybnikar  - na

I just need to know that nobody’s reading over my shoulder, about to ask me what I’m writing. ~ Sarah Howison – Messenger of Truth: A Maisie Dobbs Novel -  Jacqueline Winspear – 2007 – 336 pages

“I waited for another crack of thunder, thinking one surely had to follow a statement like that.” ~ Liz A. Vagani - na

In the was a brick oven carrying a large pan; beside it stood a rattan basket filled to the brim with pieces of charcoal. ~ sherry hupp - Judge Dee at Work: Eight Chinese Detective Stories – Page 56 – Robert Hans van Gulik – 2007 – 184 pages

“She didn’t know the real Eddie.” ~ Janet - na

What he needed was to dull his senses as much as he could, staying just sober enough not to be completely tongue-tied. ~ Connie Jo Ozinga - na

From the beer bottles strewn about like passed out drunks, and the cheese doodle dust coating his chest and face, it was pretty clear what he’d been up to. ~ David Faulkner – Red-Headed Stepchild – Jaye Wells – 2009 – 342 pages

“Or at least buy you a book on tactics to bolster your metaphors.” ~ Mary Wilkes Towner – - The Orchid Affair – Lauren Willig – 2011 – 405 pages

“An indoor botanical conservatory, two wedding chapels, and the Spa Tower complete the extravagant picture.” ~ Daniela Yew – Fodor’s Las Vegas 2010 – Page 56 -  Fodor’s – 2009 – 392 pages

“Later Longie Zwillman, the so-called ‘Al Capone of New Jersey’ , took Doc’s place.” ~ Michael Gregory – Encyclopedia of world crime: criminal justice, criminology, and …: Volume 1
- Jay Robert Nash – 1990 – 4500 pages

“To be sure, unlike Dana, the movement’s advocates were not attempting to democratize taste.” ~ Malakia Oglesby - na

“Wishing for my leg back.” ~ Susan Riley - na

“At one end of the bar the television set was on, but the sound had been muted.” ~ Celia Bandelier – P is for peril – Sue Grafton – 2001 – 352 pages

“A robot is already a spare part.” ~ Brock Peoples - na

“He furnished himself with shirts and all the other things he could, following the advice the innkeeper had given him; and when this had been accomplished and completed, without Panza taking leave of his children and wife, or Don Quixote of his housekeeper and niece, they rode out of the village one night, and no one saw them, and they traveled so far that by dawn they were certain they would not be found even if anyone came looking for them.” ~ Lisa Guidarini -  The First Part of the Delightful History of the Most Ingenious … -  Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra – 1909

“Other patrons push their chairs back; the front door opens and shuts, then opens but doesn’t shut as Hattie steels herself to explain about radon, and about how the cancer had already spread by the time they found it – to his liver and brain before anyone knew a thing. “ ~ Laura Carroll - World and Town – Page 56 – Gish Jen – 2010 – 386 pages

Badawi scratched his chin thoughtfully. ~ Ann Perrigo - na

“Frey and others such as Versaci are part of a growing number of educators encouraging read3ers to see comics as a legitimate literary form.” ~ Joann D. Verostko - na

“An old and inconvenient term still used to designate a color mixed with black.” ~ Teresa - na

Swaz si des uber Rin mit ir zen Hiunen brahte, daz muose gar zergeben sin. ~ Lucy Roehrig - Deutsche Grammatik: Volume 1; Volume 4 – Gustav Roethe, Edward Schröder – 1989

“We’re authorized by the Department of Extraordinary Affairs to take you into custody for the possible murder of Professor Mason Redfield.” ~ Pat Mathews – Dead Waters- Anton Strout – 2011 – 335 pages

“Aren’t you forgetting something else?” said Katie acidly. “Like, um, the vents?” ~ Terry Ann Lawler - na

“The very nicest.” ~ Cheryl Schubert - na

World Book Day sentence results

Word Map of Results

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The Google Generation and Library Skills

What the Google Generation Doesn’t Know or 

Get off of my Lawn!

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How has Google affected research skills?  Are library patrons getting the facts?  Are the facts they are getting ‘real’?   Do they know how to find information or what questions to ask? How is the technological immediacy of information balanced against quality?  Do rolling stones still gather no moss?  Many opinions were offered on these subjects and more when  Kevin O’Kelly of the Somerville Public Library asked Publib members:

         “is ignorance of the skills of the pre-Internet age limiting their (high school students) ability to function in the Internet age? ”

To which the Publib Chorus responds:

Thy cnt spl.  Vowels are a thing of the past. Seriously, they can’t spell. They can’t find things, sometimes even on Google because even Google can’t make heads or tails of what they are trying to say.   ~ Dusty Gres – Ohoopee Regional Library System  (editor:   SMS language avoids vowels)

Ay?

I was assisting a middle-schooler with her homework when I noticed she had written that the two official languages of Canada were English and Sumerian. I pointed out her mistake, but even if she had turned the homework in and gotten it wrong she would probably still have discovered that Yahoo Answers isn’t the best resource. And I don’t know about others in my generation, but I rarely find myself’ following the shiny blue hyper-links all over the place in some sort of internet-induced ADD rapture (unless it’s Wikipedia, in which case all bets are off – that site is an easy time-suck). ~ Theresa McNutt – Red Oak Library 

The truly disturbing thing is that back in the day, patrons who couldn’t use the book resources got no information and came to us for help.  Now they will actually get something with their poorly constructed search strategies and they’ll be happy about it.  It’s hard to educate someone who thinks they know what they’re doing. ~ emilie smart – East Baton Rouge Parish Library

. . .Often they finally do come to me, and the only thing left to do is to employ the backhoe method to help them.  I ask ‘what piece of information do you need to have when you leave that you don’t have now?’  … They are entirely too trusting.  They will believe anything if a search engine produces it.  They need to have that talk about not all is gold that glisters and not every search engine is righteous in its presentations.  They don’t know the difference between a site that is there to sell something and one that is there to provide information.  …  They are willing to show others–including librarians–how to manipulate the technology in exchange for being shown how to manipulate information.  Together, we have possibilities. ~ Kathleen Stipek –  Alachua County Library District   

As a member of “generation Google” I respectfully disagree.  It’s a vast  generalization to say that an entire generation (or all young people,  etc.) don’t know how to search online, use an index in a book, or any number of other assumptions. Some younger people don’t know how to do these things; that’s for certain. But neither do some adults. It’s unfair to say that, just because I grew up using computers and the  Internet, I don’t know how to use a library in the traditional sense; or  that I don’t know how to correctly and successfully search for
information online. ~ Amanda Dias – Rodman Public Library

I find that just as many middle aged and older adults have basic book finding and research questions as younger ones. ~ Jesse Ephraim – Roanoke Public Library

I have found that fewer young people have an understanding and appreciation of the Dewey Decimal system.  As we migrate to eBooks and other things digital, I also think about children reading about this strange system (Dewey) that was used to arrange an old technology (books) a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…. Which leaves me to wonder if Dewey will ever have a place in a completely digital world? … are the same basic skill(s) needed to find, use and evaluate information changing?

How would our ancient predecessors have handled a change in information technology?  It would be interesting to consider how the Roman era librarians of Alexandria would have handled the change from housing half a million papyrus scrolls to a lesser number of paper books.  What changes in society and technology would have effected them?  (And we all know how the changes in society, politics and history of their times influenced the end result of the Great Library of Alexandria.) ~  Dana L. Brumbelow – Alachua County Library District

 many people of ALL ages now just turn to Google and don’t go any further when looking for information. For me it’s really a question of reminding people that unlike the web, a book doesn’t just suddenly disappear, the way a website will if the internet connection is severed. ~ Teresa Eckford

Pretty much anything off the Internet, regardless of source, if it sounds remotely plausible, will satisfy many questioners. Certainly no one wants to wait the few minutes for a librarian to find the correct information in an actual reference book – just take whatever Wikipedia offers.  And it seems that many teachers, having grown up with the same attitudes, don’t have the sense to demand authoritative sources.  Or, perhaps, even to be aware that they exist.

One of my favorite books, “The Franchise Affair” by Josephine Tey rightly skewers the tabloid press of the 40s.  The crazy tabloids my grandmother subscribed to have move comfortably to the web. Batboy lives!  And I’m having a Martian love child next month!  
. . .  Often research skills are taught in school, but patrons want to take the easy way and have you hand them information.  I’ve encountered this often as a K-8 school librarian.  Several teachers complained to the principal that the students didn’t know how to find information or use the library.  This was after years of being taught how to do both.

I asked the teachers to bring classes in to see what the problem was.  The teacher would ask, “Where would you find information on XYZ?”  A room full of shrugged shoulders and vacant stares.I responded, “Really?  Where is the first place you would look for the information?”  Miraculously hands would go up and they suddenly remembered they would use the index to the encyclopedia and then locate the volumes indicated.  They would explain about the different Dewey classifications and using the OPAC. ~ Paula Laurita – Athens-Limestone Public Library 

 
Yellow Journalsim

Yellow Journalism

“Yellow journalism” goes back to the beginning of journalism! So do highly-regarded books that contained errors, slanted viewpoints, careful omission of important facts, etc.No matter what the medium, “logical fallacies” will always be common. Politics in general relies heavily on them, as do many other factors in life. Critical thinking can be taught, but the emotional and social variables that undermine the process can never be fully overcome.

 I would even suggest that the concept of “authoritative sources” in general tends to downplay critical thinking while appealing to emotion and social pressures.  ;)  Knowing how to manipulate the technology is an integral part of librarianship today.  Librarians should know more than the students in that regard, and should work hard to keep their knowledge current.  In most cases, that means studying on your own time for no pay, just as folks in other professions do.

. . . There are some simple ways to improve Google searches dramatically – when I have trouble finding things via Google, it’s usually because the information simply isn’t online, or it’s so obscure that it takes a lot of extra work (which is true of old style print searching, as well).  Though indexes are more precise, they are inherently much more limited. ~ Jesse Ephraim – Roanoke Public Library

The Pew Research Center [somewhere] discovered that, really, under-twenty-somethings aren’t really all that net-savvy. They found it a misconception that next-genners can fix a computer in their sleep. Stroll through any public library’s teen area and watch them actually try to find info by Googling – it’s laughable, sad even. I’m not sure Google gets enough credit in terms of info. organization. Its services just get a bad rep because of its users. ~ Michael Schofield

 
As professionals we should be aware of, and keep up to date on, both library(research) methods _and_ current information technologies. ~ Carl William Long -   Reading Public Library
 
 I think some patrons would love a drive through window! I my case as a public law library – “one divorce packet, no children, to go please.” ~ Virginia Eldridge  Grayson County Law Library

 What really gets to me about these kids-these-days-and-their-darn-computer-boxes discussions is the knee-jerk assumption that a different skill set is an inferior skill set. Lately I’ve enjoyed pointing people to Socrates’ Phaedrus, written around 370 B.C., in which he rails against the new technology of the printed word and its deleterious effect on the mental habits of future generations. David Malki, author of Wondermark, has a really good blog post about it here: http://bit.ly/fnDHxu     

Socrates

I assume that a listserv full of librarians isn’t going to side with Plato in condemning the written word, but he’s not entirely wrong. A dialogue with a knowledgeable person can be much more illuminating that reading a book written by that same person. Plato’s error is his failure to see that the written word has its own strengths to offset the ways in which it is inferior to the spoken word and his refusal to seek out and exploit those strengths rather than lamenting those inferiorities.

Computers have produced a cultural upheaval to rival that wrought by writing and we’re well the point of no return. We’ll better serve ourselves and our patrons by looking to fuse our competencies with those of the Googleites than by grousing about what the kids don’t know. ~ Andrew Fuerste-Henry – Carnegie-Stout Public Library

. . . this ability to synthesize information into thoughts (especially written thoughts) that young people seem increasingly to be missing. I’m not sure if it has to do with how, or where they are getting their information; whether the inability to use an index or to structure a good online search is part of the problem. But I do know it’s a very real problem. I see it all the time, both at work and when I serve as a judge for local debate tournaments.  ~ Tom Cooper – Webster Groves Public Library

I think this is probably the most significant point to be made on this topic, and gets to the heart of the matter. How to help patrons who don’t know they need help? ~  Mark Hudson  East Baton Rouge Parish Library

And teachers and the Internet and their assignments for children…. I can’t figure out if it’s Google-era teachers or old, seasoned veterans who apparently give assignments and say, broadly, “You need information from a book, from a magazine article, and something from the Internet.”  Period.  I used to think it was older teachers who really were backward and knew nothing of the Internet, but thought it was something that everyone was “doing,” so his/her students should “do” the Internet for an assignment, too.  But I’m not so sure.  Then again, having had experience as a parent, I’m not always sure if kids who say, “The teacher said I need something from the Internet,” and then volunteer no further info, despite the best reference interview I can muster, are telling the truth.  Maybe the teacher gave precise directions and exact websites to try.  (That does happen, in about 10% of the cases, or some ridiculously low percentage like that there one.)  Maybe the teacher spoke intelligently and well about How to Find Good, Accurate Information on the Internet.  Or not.  Or has never been in the public library.  Or perhaps has.

Hittites in Love

And then there are all the official documents sent home for parental signatures at the beginning of the year, baddly ritten with pore grammer an speling an runonsentencez, and who produced *those*, I wonder.  Google-ites, or Troglodytes?  (Amorites, Hittites, Jebusites, Hivites–oops, now I’m getting carried away with names from the Bible, and am risking political incorrectness in public.  Or on publib.  Stop me now!) ~ John Richmond – Alpha Park Public Library

A brief summation of the Google Generation thread, with abject apologies to the Rolling Stones. :) ~ Tongue firmly in cheek, ~ Sarah Howison  – New Richmond Branch Library 

(You! Kids!) Get off of My Lawn

They live on the Internet and they can’t read an analog clock
And they eat junky foods till you can hear all their arteries clog.
They trust Google way too much, and they don’t know how to use an index
They cite Wikis in their papers and good lord, I don’t know what’s next!

We say You! (You!) Kids! (Kids!)
Get off of my lawn!
You! (You!) Kids! (Kids!)
Get off of my lawn!
You! (You!) Kids! (Kids!)
Get off of my lawn!
Keep off the grass ’cause you’re not allowed
On my lawn!

Their phones are ringing Bieber in the library all of the time
They answer them out loud, ignoring all the posted “no cell phone” signs.
You say “Hang it up, kiddo, or I’ll have to ask you to depart.”
And they act as though you’ve stabbed them all the way down into the heart.

We say You! (You!) Kids! (Kids!)
Get off of my lawn!
You! (You!) Kids! (Kids!)
Get off of my lawn!
You! (You!) Kids! (Kids!)
Get off of my lawn!
Keep off the grass ’cause you’re not allowed
On my lawn!

They barely use a vowel, they communicate only in text-speak
And for all the sense it makes to us, they might as well be sending Greek.
We snoop around the stacks and assume that all their acts are obscene
No wonder they seem to think librarians are all kind of mean!

We say You! (You!) Kids! (Kids!)
Get off of my lawn!
You! (You!) Kids! (Kids!)
Get off of my lawn!
You! (You!) Kids! (Kids!)
Get off of my lawn!
Keep off the grass ’cause you’re not allowed
On my lawn!   ~ Sarah Howison  – New Richmond Branch Library

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