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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Saggy Pants

Fashion Police at the Library – No Ifs, Ands or Butts . . .

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Melissa Davidson – Staunton, Virginia asks: 

How are you handling the saggy pants trend? I’m talking about when the waist of the pants is clearly below the bum and heading towards the knees.

To which the Publib Chorus responds:

1920s woman daring to wear pants!

1920s woman daring to wear pants!

Wendy Wright – Denman Island, BC CANADA  ~ Ridiculous though the style is, my crystal ball offers some predictions for five years from now if we try to control teens’ ever-changing fashion trends. In 2017…

  • ~ No-one will be wearing sagging pants.
  • ~ Today’s teens will be voting, taxpaying adults.
  • ~ Those adults will not be using or supporting a library where they once felt unwelcome or talked down to.

Melissa does not specify teens in her query, yet most of us assume we are discussing this age group. For a bit of perspective, we might ask ourselves whether we would follow through on an adult infringement of a rule governing dress. For example, if we are comfortable suggesting to an adult patron that her shirt emblazoned with expletives is inappropriate in the library, but would then tactfully ignore a 30-year-old’s colourful boxers, then our library’s policy should reflect that practice, for all patrons. It is easy to fall into the trap of creating double standards for adults and teens, who have a nose for hypocrisy.

Jacobean Embroidery Leaf

Jacobean Embroidery Leaf

Nann Blaine Hilyard ~  In our community there are adults who wear saggy baggy pants.  Not as saggy as the teens but plenty baggy.  The current  fashion is that the back pockets (which fall on the thigh rather than the butt) have lots of embroidery.    The  juxtaposition is that men with saggy baggies accompany women in leggings (and jeggings, which are stretch denim leggings). Often the women are plump.  (Where are Stacy and Clinton (What Not to Wear) when we need them?)

Angela Morse ~ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMwhl4IrPNc Pants on the ground….

Chris Rippel – Great Bend, Kansas ~  Make sure actions against sagging pants don’t expose your own fannies. *Library Law: Constitutional and Unconstitutional Patron Appearance and Behavior Policies: A Review* By James W. Fessler and E. Kenneth Friker, Klein, Thorpe and Jenkins, Ltd.  February 27, 2008 http://www.nsls.info/articles/detail.aspx?articleID=186

Lisa Richland – Greenport, NY ~ Melissa- Are you talking about patrons or staff?  Because I ignore the patrons’ dress habits, and tell staff when their dress is inappropriate.  In the case of staff, those low hanging trousers are in addition an impediment to mobility. And if it is just the aesthetics of the style, I avert my eyes.

Dusty Gres – Vidalia, GA ~ Depends on what else is showing, actually, but here is a true story in the daily life: One of my Branch Clerks is a retired (25 years) Army Master Sergeant. I recently overheard this transaction:

  • Clerk to teenage patron:  There you go. I think you will really like this book. Have a nice day, and son, pull up your pants.
  • Patron:  pulled up his pants

Janet Lerner ~ We’ve posted an excerpt from Philadelphia Mayor Nutter’s speech  http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/aug/8/mayor-talks-tough-to-black-teens-after-flash-mobs  in the Young Adult section of our library, as follows:

“Pull your pants up and buy a belt ’cause no one wants to see your underwear or the crack of your butt.’ If you walk into somebody’s office with your hair uncombed and a pick in the back, and your shoes untied, and your pants half down, tattoos up and down your arms and on your neck, and you wonder why somebody won’t hire you?” “‘They don’t hire you ’cause you look like you’re crazy,’ the mayor said.”
Jawaharlal_Nehru

Nehru in his jacket

Steve Benson ~ I think it’s a goofy fashion but any goofier than bell bottoms or nehru jackets? The boys aren’t exposing their back ends because they seem to always have very nice underwear to go with the saggy pants. My response is to ignore it.. . . But why do you hope they listen?  Doesn’t every generation challenge the tastes of their elders?  My flag and bra burning, tie-dye and bell bottom wearing, free loving, status quo disdaining contemporaries mostly grew up to be conservative republicans.  Wait out this current young generation, ignore where the waistline of their pants falls to, and eventually they will age into us.  What is really worth paying attention to are the thoughts rattling around in their minds.

Andrea Philo – Norristown, PA ~ Our security put up signs:  Hoods Down, Pants Up. They monitor compliance.

Chris Truex ~  What’s with these kids, with their hula hoops and hippity-hop music!? Get a haircut! I don’t understand why some 13 year old girl can walk around in spandex with “Juicy” across the backside, and there are no policies for that, but seeing 2 inches of some kid’s boxer shorts causes a riot.  Why in the world does anyone care about kids sagging? I’m sure constantly hassling them about style will do wonders in terms of outreach.

Shahin Shoar ~ Let them be!  What I find not so pleasant is seeing half of someone’s back end hanging out when sitting on a chair or bending down to look at lower shelves;but hey that’s life, not everything is pleasant to my eyes!

Manya Shorr ~ Shouldn’t the issue be behavior and not dress? We really shouldn’t let our personal tastes get in the way of good public service.

Joseph N. Anderson – Logan, Utah ~ I’m surprised that this trend is back again. In the late 90s, I was one of those kids who probably disturbed the library staff with some of my fashion choices including sagging pants. Thankfully, the staff never turned it into a bad library experience for me.

Kevin Okelly – Somerville, MA ~ Ah yes, I’ve seen quite a lot of posterior cleavage.

Ann Hall ~  It should be behavior and not dress.

ConnieJo Ozinga ~ Kevin O’Kelly posted:  Ah yes, I’ve seen quite a lot of posterior cleavage. I don’t think you need sagging pants for this.  We have just finished an interior renovation/construction project and I saw way too much posterior cleavage from those crews.

Jo Choto – Frederick, MD ~ If obscenity laws aren’t contravened, I don’t see that it matters if young men want to waddle around like penguins.  Essentially, their butts are covered by something, whether it’s several sets of shorts or long shirts, so no harm, no foul.  I am more troubled by pre-teen/tween girls who are barely covered at all, though this isn’t such a big problem in the winter!

Darryl Eschete ~  If a kid’s pants are an obvious hindrance to his safe and proper movement, we will ask the kid to pull them up lest they trip and fall on the stairs. I personally have also asked kids who drag their feet (and untied shoes) to tie their shoes and walk correctly, as their shuffling steps make a lot of noise. Dress and behavior are related and can have this sort of complicated interplay. Pardon me. I meant “…lest *HE* trip and fall on the stairs.”

Heian Fashion

Heian Fashion

Kathleen Stipek ~ I think that it is a very bad idea to pass laws about the droopy drawers look.  Some young men are very concerned about the aesthetic of the look.  I have seen some wearing multiple layers of skivvies that are as carefully color-matched as a Heian lady’s sleeves dangling outside her screens.  I have also seen some that suggest to me that laundry soap is not part of a particular young man’s knowledge base.

If we truly want to lose this look, the law side is a bad one as are injunctions from elders which merely turn droopy drawers into a rebellion and perhaps even a matter of principle.   What we need will cost some money, but it will be brutally effective.  Young women whom these young men would love to impress need to be recruited and tested for loud, high-pitched, giggles.  Little groups of 2 or 3 should be posted strategically in any given area, and whenever they see some droopy drawers, they point, giggle, and shriek with laughter.  The young men may begin wearing their pants up around their armpits, but that’s a risk we have to take.  The young women will have to be paid something for each session, but the price and the shrieks will be worth it. Cruel, I know, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Julie Andrews ~ I’m not at all bothered by people with hoodies up. Half the population is walking around like that! It’s cold!!! Even if it’s not as cold indoors, it’s just easier to leave it up.Take it off and you have messy hair. Surely hood-head is a fashion faux pas too?

Tina Shelton – Carrollton, TX ~ I just have to comment because I saw a young man WAS wearing a belt on his saggy, baggy britches!  The shorts that show  are the top pair over a bottom pair of underwear. My question is why bother?  I have to be careful because every time I see this type of outfit, I just want to smirk loudly.

Prison Fashion

Prison Fashion

Chris Ely  ~ Why bother? It’s fashion. Though back when I was working at a place where part of my job was dealing with juvenile offenders. I was told by juvie officials that it began due to a prison having the bright idea to issue pants to prisoners that were too big, to reduce the number of fights and other incidents by keeping one hand occupied keeping their pants up. The thinking was the last thing most people would want to do in prison is drop trou.

Apparently it backfired and became an “I’ve done time” status symbol for former prisoners, then it bled over into just being cool. Not sure how accurate that story was, but it was nearly 20 years ago and the style is still out there. Each time I see it, I wonder how true that story was and what the teens and young adults who wear their pants halfway down to their knees would think if they knew the supposed story behind the fashion.

Sarah Jesudason  ~ This is the second reference to saggy pants being a “prison cred” thing I’ve seen today. But my mental image of what prisoners wear is jumpsuits, not jeans and shirts. Alrighty, who on PubLib has done time and wants to comment on their attire in the Big House?

Carolyn Rawles-Heiser – Corvallis, OR ~ Regarding prison attire–when I went on a tour of the Nevada State Prison a few years ago as part of a state commission, we were told not to wear denim because the prisoners wore denim jeans and blue workshirts, and if there were a riot or  disturbance, the guards would be able to pick the visitors out more easily (and not shoot us, I suppose).

Ancient Cowboy Templar Belt

Ancient Cowboy (Templar) Belt

Kathleen Stipek ~ I have seen young men sporting the droopy drawers look who accessorize with belts.  In a few cases, I have seen enormous cowboy-style buckles on those belts which seem to be pressing on what is, in most gentlemen, a very sensitive spot. I guess it is a willingness to suffer for fashion akin to a woman’s wearing 4-inch stilettos.  As someone who prefers to sacrifice style for comfort, I don’t get it, but then I don’t have to.  The entertainment value is enormous, and in these troubled times, a good giggle never hurt anybody.

Steve Benson ~ Sagging pants was a big issue for a recent Dallas, Texas mayor.  The link is to an article about it and includes picture of a billboard and a rap song from his campaign against sagging pants. http://www.npr.org/tablet/#story/?storyId=15534306

Jesse Ephraim  ~ It doesn’t bother me at all, as long as they are wearing underwear.  It’s not my job to police fashion trends.

Brenda McKinley – Newtown, CT  ~ I keep waiting for someone to request: Enough already, can we please drop the saggy pants?  On the other hand…I guess that’s the fear that started this whole thing.

Bessie Makris – Fort Wayne, IN ~ I think that librarians should also start wearing sagging pants.  Co-opt the style and teens will finally drop it. <g>

Emily Weak ~ I would imagine that whoever worries about injury liability at your library could get a “patrons need to wear shoes”  policy put in place, regardless of health code policy.

Moses and Joshua Bearing the Law

Thou Shalt Not Sag

Susan Pieper – Paulding, Ohio ~ This “sagging pants” thread makes me think of a joke our Pastor told at church this week.

A sixteen year old son wanted to borrow the family car. Father said, “Son, when you bring up your grades to a B average, and study your Bible more, and cut your hair, then we will talk about you using the car.” So, the son brought up his grades to a B average and started reading the Bible more. He went to his Dad and said,” Dad, I’ve been reading the Bible more and Samson had long hair, Noah and Moses had long hair, and there is reason to believe that Jesus had long hair.” To which the Dad replied, “Yes son, and to get around, they all walked.”

Jo Choto ~ Judging by the overwhelming response to sagging pants, may I suggest the following topics for another free for all:

  1. Patrons that leave a cigarette-stink on library items;
  2.  Patrons who ask for your help, then get on their cell phone but expect
    that somehow you continue to assist them;
  3. Patrons who stand in a line six or eight deep for some time, but wait
    until they reach the desk before spending 10 minutes looking for their
    library card;
  4. Patrons who fail to follow instructions for self check out and then
    complain that the machine doesn’t work.

Steve Benson ~  And furthermore . . . Men in green or red plaid golf slacks should be banned from public view as should older gentlemen who pull their slacks halfway up to their chin.

Robert Balliot – Bristol, RI ~ First they came  for the sagging pants, and I did not speak out because my pants did not sag . . .

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Publib Topics – A Graphic Retrospective – December 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 December 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.
 
Extracting the data from the archives became problematic in December.  The Publib listserve moved from Webjunction to OCLC and OCLC put the archives in an obscure space viewable only by listserve subscribers.  None of the archives are searcheable through the open web and must be viewed through a multi-step process.  Even subscribing to Publib has become convoluted – although members who had subscribed before were apparently migrated successfully to the new server.
 
Once you do reach the archives, they can be sorted by Date, Topic, and Author.  Big topics for December included: Favorite Reads of 2011 ,  reference stumpers ,  and Tax Season.
 
 
Publib Topics - December 2011

Publib Topics - December 2011

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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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Publib Topics – A Graphic Retrospective – September 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 September 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.
 
Some of the more active threads include: a continued discussion of LSSI from August , Amazon in Competition with Libraries ,  Book or E-bookBedbugs ,  and an assortment of DVD Issues.
 
Publib Topics September 2011

Publib Topics September 2011

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Amazon in competition with libraries?

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Is Amazon in competition with Libraries or are Libraries in competition with Amazon?

In the Publib post Amazon in competition with libraries?Randall Yelverton of the Washington District Library directed our attention to this Publishers Weekly blog story:

    Funding remains steady in many systems for now, but we will be, and should already be, fighting against perceived irrelevance that will increase as digital subscription services allow people to curate massive personal media and information collections with great ease.
Library Books

Library Books

Book stores, large or small, aren’t analogous to libraries because you pay for every single purchase from a store. Subscription services are far more similar to a library because for a fee, just as you pay taxes to support the library, you can quickly access a media library, and there’s likely not waiting for the must-have title.

To which the Publib chorus responded ~

  • That said, pay-fer services, like that described here or Netflix or even big book stores, are no threat to libraries. They certainly haven’t caused reduced funding for libraries. ~ DARRELL COOK – Richardson (TX) Public Library
  • Publishers are going to be pushing back hard on this. Customers may find that their selection from the Amazon lending library will be pretty meager. Still, we shouldn’t be complacent. : http://www.pcworld.com/article/239859/amazon_kindle_ebook_lending_program_what_it_needs_to_succeed.html  ~ Sharon Foster
  • The fact remains that libraries must evolve. We must change the perception that, once people can easily check out books, audio books, and find information quickly and easily using their smart devices, that libraries will no longer be needed. What will or what are libraries morphing into? What will be our new/revised role in community when it is no longer “reading advisor”? How will City Councils and State Legislatures begin to view us as “essential” and not as a place to begin cutbacks? ~ Beth Carlberg -Lubbock Public Libraries
  • This very topic was the subject of the Infopeople webinar, “Libraries in a Post-Print World,” held yesterday, September 13.   I recognized several PubLibbers’ names among the attendees.  The webinar archive is here:   http://infopeople.org/training/libraries-post-print-world  ~ Nann Hilyard the library in Zion, Illinois

Amazon is a singular corporate entity. Libraries are at best an aggregate of like-minded interests loosely, yet passionately bound together by a system of professional ethics.  Like politics, all Libraries are local.  So, can we really say that Amazon is competing with any individual Library or are Libraries collectively poised to compete with Amazon?

The month of September 2011 marked some major changes in Amazon:

  • On September 21st –  Amazon Kindle kicked into Overdrive – making Kindle Books available at over 11,000 local libraries.
  • On September 26th – Amazon announced its digital licensing agreement with Twentieth Century Fox.
  • On September 28th – Amazon announced the availability of four new Kindle models including:
    • a pocket sized $79 version
    • a Kindle Touch version for $99
    • a Kindle Touch 3G for $149
    • and Kindle Fire for $199 that will play Video, MP3 and offer books

The financial markets responded well to these announcements:  http://www.google.com/finance?client=ob&q=NASDAQ:AMZN#

Each of these announced changes impact the aggregate of Libraries and individual libraries. 

- Amazon Kindle kicked into Overdrive – increases demand for Kindle titles and pressure on collection development budgets: 
  • I know that it takes a bit for new programs to work the glitches out but we have some pretty avid readers who have been waiting and watching for the Kindle app to appear.  I want to make sure I can help them when they appear on our doorstep. ~ Jan Cole – Duncan Public Library
  • Would anyone be willing to share the percentage of your annual materials budget that you allocate for e-books, or just the amount you budget for
    e-books? What is your population? – Diane Greenwald -Warwick Public Library (Ocean State Libraries)
His and Her Kindles

His and Her Kindles

As a proud owner of His and Her Kindles, I reviewed the Ocean State Libraries
 consortium offerings for Kindle.  The number of titles currently available for the 600,000+ card holders is: 4,046.  There is essentially no depth to the collection at this time nor any real value in searching it.  In contrast – using the no-contract free 3G access built into the Kindles, I can browse and sample over 1 million titles.

- The deal with Twentieth Century Fox means additional video titles are now available for Amazon to stream to all sorts of device – providing an on-demand library of over 100,000 titles. 

How many libraries can say they are able to provide the equivalent access?

-The new price point for Kindles – as low as $79 dollars with WiFi or $149 with free 3G means many, many more people will be able to afford Kindles. 

Amazon Prime is $79 a year. So, for a total investment of about $150, you have WiFi, and thousand of books and videos available – represent a big price drop from just a few months ago. And, the new Kindle Fire may potentially become the dominant streaming media device.

Publib contributors are not without ethical concerns over these changes  -

  • … that kind of seamless integration across your Amazon account has interesting (i.e. potentially alarming) implications about just how much Amazon is keeping track of its customers’ relationships with their public libraries. I’m not sure what I think about that yet. Does anyone have a read
    on that yet? ~ Will Porter – Dennis Memorial Library
  • … but I did note yesterday that your library books are listed in your Kindle account information, just like books you purchase, and can be sent to any device you own from there. Several of our patrons have already commented on the service on our FB page – one or two even praised how easy it is, so that’s a nice change… ;) ~ Robin Hastings – Missouri River Regional Library
  • So they’re definitely paying attention to what patrons are checking out and using that information for marketing. I wouldn’t be too surprised if they shared that information with others. Part of me wants to make a big point of letting patrons know that their Kindle checkouts aren’t anonymous, but I don’t really know that patrons care about that as much as I do. I know that while my librarian self finds it worrying my patron/customer self just doesn’t care.   ~ Andrew Fuerste-Henry Dubuque, IA

 But is Amazon competing with Libraries or are Libraries competing with Amazon?

 
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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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