Best of PubLib ALA Midwinter Exhibit Hall Review

Best of PubLib at the ALA Midwinter Meeting Exhibit Hall Review

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


Boston Convention and Exhibition Center

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

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

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

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

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

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

New York Times

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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This Week in Best of PubLib 12.07.2009

Best of Publib Current Topics and Archives

This week  in  Best of Publib covers the week of November 30th through December 6th 2009. This week includes questions about library censorship, uses of smart boards, disposal of magazines , DVD circulation  and the necessary data collected about patrons. Some of the topics we will be reviewing include:weekly update

  • Topic   »    Arboreta/Greenhouses and Libraries – Jennifer Chilcoat in Little Rock, Arkansas is looking for plans and methods to facilitate – how green is your library?
  • Topic   »    100 books for reading and sharing from NYPL - GraceAnne Andreassi DeCandido in New York offers the list – how do you rate them? 
  • Topic   »    Censorship at its best? – Terry Lawlor in Phoenix alerts us to this controversial story out of Kentucky – what do you think?
  • Topic   »    Discarding magazines?  Sara Weissman in New Jersey wants to know where they go – where do they go when they leave your library?
  • Topic   »    Smart Board Use?  Beth Kroehler in Muncie, Indiana wants to know how you use interactive whiteboards  - are you providing instruction?
  • Topic   »    DVD circulation – Deb Messling in New Jersey is seeing a decline in DVD use - others are seeing a surge – what are the factors influencing use?
  • Topic   »    Furloughs – Michael McGrorty in Los Angeles provides a breakdown of state government furloughs across the US.
  • Topic   »    Posting Music -  Judy Anderson in Washington, DC wants to know where you can store your own music on-line.  Jeff Imparato recommends SoundClick
  • Topic   »    Keeping driver’s license and other ID numbers in patron records – Margaret Maddox – Centerville, Ohio is looking at policies - What are the implications for collection security and retention?  What are the implications for patron privacy and personal information security?

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This Week in Best of PubLib 11.30.09

Best of Publib Current Topics and Archives

This week  in  Best of Publib covers the week of November 23rd through November 30th. This week includes questions about the methodology of Library Journal’s Library Index, bandwidth management, libraries as art subjects,  and library workplace violence.  Some of the topics we will be reviewing include:weekly update

  • Topic   »    LJ Index Misbehaving Data – Thomas Hennen of HALPR index questions the LJ index -  Which is more transparent?  See poll below !
  • Topic   »    Library Gems – Marshall Shore is putting together programs on libraries that innovate - Can you recommend some?
  • Topic   »    Tracking Reference Books Use – Alison Moss in Lafayette, Indiana wants to know – how do you derive your reference statistics?
  • Topic   »    BLACKLISTING BANDWIDTH HOGS – Larry Hlavsa in New Ulm, Minnesota ask how you handle Hulu and Youtube when they disrupt  service.
  • Topic   »    Policy for viewing DVDs within library – Nicole Johnson  in Loves Park, Illinois wants to know if you provide DVD players for in-house use.
  • Topic   »    Libraries As Represented in Art – Michael Schofield in Florida would like some sources – Impressionists?
  • Topic   »    100th anniversary – Susan Riley in Mount Kisco, New York is having a party for her library – Ideas? Elizabeth Fraser tells us they go for the gold!
  • Topic   »    Digital signage – PubLib list moderator Karen Schneider wants to know what sort of system you would recommend.
  • Topic   »    CD book question – Mark Arend in Oshkosh, Wisconsin asks - What if a gift says: Not for sale to libraries?
  • Topic   »    How to handle violent patrons? A violent workplace incident was reported out of the New York Public Library – How would you react? How should you react?

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This Week in Best of PubLib 11.23.09

Best of Publib Current Topics and Archives

This week  in  Best of Publib covers the weeks of November 8th through November 22nd. This week includes questions about collection development, thought provoking discussions about library photography,  archiving the Grateful Dead, library materials security and damage,  and generational conflicts. Some of the topics we will be reviewing include:weekly update

  • Topic   »    The end of CD HotList – Rick Anderson in Utah announces the ending of the CD HotList - will he create a new directory?
  • Topic   »    What is the Source of a Nativity story from Joseph’s point of view from Toby Greenwalkt in Skokie, IL – Answer The Handmaid and the Carpenter by E. Berg
  • Topic   »    When customers are ill – Alison Moss in Lafayette, IN is looking for policies – Diedre Conkling references LibraryLaw
  • Topic   »    Fun Games for little ones - Pam Karr in Redlands, CA wants your suggestions – Louis Alcorn recommends Tumblebooks
  • Topic   »    100th anniversary suggestions – Rita Squires in Dalles, OR wants to know how others celebrate
  • Topic   »    Generational conflict and retiring librarians – Hillary Theyer in Torrance, CA wants resources
  • Topic   »    Posting/identifying photos – Roger Carswell  in Iola, KS wants to know policies for posting photos – what is the law?
  • Topic   »    Legit site? – Cynthia Dieden wants to know some credentials – Trustee Fred Beisser evaluates
  • Topic   »    Children’s registrations/multiple cards – Andrew Poplawski in Dartmouth, N.S.  is looking at policies
  • Topic   »    Archiving the Grateful Dead - Judy Anderson spots a hot dead head library job 
  • Topic   »    Teachers selling lesson plans – Sharon Foster wants to know if librarians are next.
  • Topic   »    Locking book drops  - Helen Rigdon wants to know if you are locking them for the holidays – are your materials secure?
  • Topic   »    What would you tell a student? – Christie Brandau is teaching a MLIS course and wants your nuggets of  library wisdom – Grace DeCandido offers her suggestions
  • Topic   »    Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Lorie J. O’Donnell in Rome, NY is having a book discussion and wants to know what you would ask.
  • Topic   »    Good resources for magazine/journal indexes – Andrea Lhotka in Sedona notes the lack of database support for indexing old magazines – what resources are out there – WorldCat ?
  • Topic   »    Patron requests limits – Lynne Mildestein in Bend, OR wants to know if you are limiting active holds – can there be too many holds?
  • Topic   »    A/V in bookdrop - Mary Soucie in Illinois want to know policies – How do you limit damage?
  • Topic   »    ESL Website – Amber Sroka is putting together an ESL website and would like to see other examples

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Sacred Cattle

Best of PubLib Featured Article featured article

The PubLib listserve members pored over this question from Andrea Taylor – the Division Manager for Tech. Services at the Fullerton Public Library in California.

 We have been asked to come up with a list of things to cut in each
department and have been told that nothing is a sacred cow.  Has anyone
had to do this?  Specifically, I am asking about what in my Technical
Services dept. could be considered (TS = Sys. Admin., Acquisitions,
Cataloguing, Processing, Mending, etc…).

There were many answers and divergent points of consideration. Librarian Andrea Taylor compiled these results:

Cost Cutting Suggestions

Technical Services

1.      No mending

2.      No binding

3.      No direct orders or out of print orders (used books)

4.      Do not replace missing/damaged/lost items unless requested by patron

5.      Outsource cataloging

6.      No donations unless Best Seller (on hold)

7.      Limit the number of times someone check’s another’s work (i.e. eliminate circ’s final check on new books)

8.      Why do we stamp the edges of books? Stamp inside?  i.e. …can we eliminate redundancy? We have streamlined our labeling, so that we are only doing the bare minimum of processing – barcode, spine labels and a property stamp is about it.

9.      Forgo spine labels on DVDs

10.  Move paperback cataloguing to TS as it can be done faster and attached to appropriate hardback records if available.

11.  Paperbacks – Put mass market pbs in generic paperback records with no processing other than a bar code and property stamp.  Occasionally patrons would like to know the name of the item that is overdue, and it would be nice to look up paperback titles but it’s not that big a deal and does save staff & processing time and database space.  Use generic records for board books and fotonovelas.

12.  Reuse children’s cataloguing slips.

13.  Putting all juvenile holiday books into regular circulation.

14.  No plastic covers on juvenile & adult magazines

15.  Limit all printing to only what is necessary.

16.  Eliminate double securing of DVDs

17.  Do you really need to property stamp all over your new materials?  If your barcode has your name on it, that’s almost enough.  Maybe one stamp with your name and address would save you one or two books over a decade.  Is that amount of return worth the cost of labor over and over again? 

18.   We are considering whether or not to continue to place magnetic strips in every item – we are still trying to figure this one out, but if things get tough enough we may drop the mag strips all together.

19.  We are not replacing jewel cases or repackaging CDs and DVDs to save some on case costs. 

20.  Order supplies once per year to cut down on shipping charges.

21.  Stop counting books (i.e. we count # mends, #new processed etc…)

22.  Get rid of children’s kit’s bags and go to CD’s inside cover – a lot cheaper and easier for circ to deal with.

23.  Make us of project plan for everything so that cost of every new procedure is detailed

24.  We have had vendor processing for years and have really streamlined the whole acquisitions process this year which has freed up staff to go fill vacancies in branches

25.  We place barcode on outside of material in exactly the same place EVEN IF IT COVERS SOMETHING UP.  This means that people don’t need to stop and think about label placement.  And, Circulation loves it!

26.  When we print the spine labels, the location prints on the 2nd label so we know where the item belongs.

27.  No special stickers (ex: Mystery, Science Fiction, etc.)

28.  Centralized selection

29.  No “special classification” requests.  (ex: “My branch wants this a “Easy Book” not a “Non-Fiction” book. 

30.  Stopped assigning LC call numbers to CDs.  We now just use Horizon Collection Codes for the genre and performer/composer name for call number (the same format as the call numbers for fiction.)

31.  We have established automatic cancellation dates with our major vendors.  This means that we just cancel orders in Horizon but we don’t need to send out cancellation notices.

32.  We cancelled all travel book and exam book standing orders.  Baker & Taylor now sends us carts with the newly available titles each month and we just firm order what we want.  This saves all the time managing the standing orders and it also helps the acquisitions budget because we may not want to purchase something like Fodor’s Belize every year

Collection Management 

33.  Limit amount of materials purchased from Sales Rep and Stores

34.  Use standing orders/profiles for fiction

35.  Purchase WorldBook only every two years since now online and little reference

36.  Because we have online encyclopedias we only buy hardcover encyclopedias every other year

37.  There are certain self-weeding collections:  math, witchcraft, true crime, tarot cards, test study guides, etc.  I think these and other high-theft collections should be bought in paperback and not bound or laminated.  These should be bought about once a year, and when they’re gone, they’re gone until next year.

38.  We took a very long, hard look at the user stats for our electronic databases in spring and dropped two databases this year; again no negative comments have comments have made their way to me, but, the user stats were very low so not very many people were impacted.


39.  Have reference librarian work at circ desk to field ready reference while ref desk is closed.

40.  Allow circulation to answer simple reference questions

 41.  We buy very little reference in hardcopy (almanacs, dictionaries, atlases) relying on our electronic offerings


42.  Move Holds from behind the desk to self-pickup!!

43.  Send only 1 notice before bill

44.  Recently, because of the budget restraints, we’ve had to go to a 4:1 ratio of holds to holdings – not very appealing but there’s just no money.  No patron complaints have come to me from the branches or through our website comments feature.  Note: FPL’s ratio is 5:1 already.

45.  This isn’t a high impact savings measure at all, but it does save libraries from having to buy   bookmarks for patrons (if they even did it in the first place), it’s environmentally friendly, and   patrons love the outcome and think they are getting something elegant for nothing. I take old   catalogs that we get, the ones with thicker covers, and cut them into bookmarks. 

 46. We added a new feature to email notification of holds.  Now, if our patrons choose to   be     notified by email, they will also receive an email three days before the resources are due,   with a link to renewing them.  This has decreased our mailing costs. 


47.  Eliminate storytimes with less than 10-15 attendees

48.  We are slowly phasing out the “Request” ability to Floppy (paperback) children’s picture books and the  hardback picture books for babies. The new replacement copies that we receive are identified as  Floppy and     cannot be requested. Our floppies are part of the browsing collection and are displayed face-out which made it   difficult for staff to locate them if they were requested.  Below I’ve provided you with a picture of how the floppy  picture books are displayed throughout the San Jose Public Library System. The hardback picture books for babies   are placed in square bins for parents to go through.


49.  We have also changed our hours so the library is closed on two consecutive days, where we used   to be closed on Friday and Sunday.  This has helped our utility costs, as we power down   completely when we leave for the weekend.  We  have furloughs, which were received very well,   as we chose days when we were not busy right before holidays.  And we changed our working   hours to nine hours on four days, and eight hours on the fifth day, and three day weekends every other weekend.  The staff likes this also.  

 50.  In general, we remove any barriers to self-service and are in the process of evaluating all positions  so that we staff for function.  For example, when a Library Clerk position becomes vacant, in most   cases this position is being reclassified to a Page position due to the need to turn the collection  around faster.  We have used self-check machines for a decade and in 2006 installed automated  materials handling, so as much as 70%-90% of circulation is done through self-service today.  The   bottleneck is in shelving the 11 million items that circulate annually.

51. We are simply going through out budget line item by line item to look for opportunities to cut. We’ll also be   looking at the material budget and hours. (3% additional cut needed for this year).

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This Week in Best of PubLib 10.25.09

Best of Publib Current Topics and Archives

This week  in  Best of Publib covers the week of October 19th through October 25th. This week includes discussions about collection development, thought provoking discussions about Blue-ray vs DVD and overdue fines , unanswerable questions,  and irksome library phrases. Some of the topics we will be reviewing include:weekly update

  • Topic   » All Star Line-Up for PLA 2010 – Kathleen Hughes reports on the authors coming to Portland, OR  in March 2010.
  • Topic   » Jane Austen read alike - Director Mamie Ney in Maine wants your recommendations for her book group.
  • Topic   »  Non-resident use - Steve Benson and others continue the discussion on Charging for Internet Access – what is your philosophy?
  • Topic   » Uses for catalog cards - Pat Kaufman in New York asks how you use catalog cards – Are you displaying them artistically?
  • Topic   » Internet home pages –  Melissa Davidson wants to know your homepage – is your library homepage a local portal?
  • Topic   »  Shelving test – How do you test shelvers’ knowledge of classification systems - software? – algorithms? - Sue Kamm and others came up with some simple solutions. 
  • Topic   »  H1N1 Plans – Elizabeth Fraser in West Virginia is planning for the worst – What system do you have in place for a large outbreak?
  • Topic   »  Blue-ray vs. DVD – Marla in Montana wants to know collection development guidelines for Blue-ray and standard DVD – Who collects what and why?
  • Topic   » Pros and cons of charging overdue fines – Do you charge fines?  If you don’t – why not?
  • Topic   » Unanswerable questions – Catherine Wiggins in Myrtle Beach, SC is putting together  a list of unanswerable questions - How many are there?
  • Topic   » Library Journal released Placements & Salaries Survey 2009 - What are the new career trends for the recession?
  • Topic   » Career databases – Ashely Biggs in LA is looking for career databases to serve the needs of high school students – Who has the best articles?
  • Topic   » Point of order – Michael McGorty wants to know what is off topic for PubLib – Are intellectual discussions affecting collection development allowed?
  • Topic   » Friday rant – Joe Schallan would like to know what library words/phrases should be retired – What phrase irks you the most?

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This Week in Best of Publib

Best of Publib Current Topics and Archivesweekly2

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

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

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



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