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

Publib Topics May 2011

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

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Local History with Beignets: Discovering Vieux Carre/French Quarter

Discovering Vieux Carre/French Quarter

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~ Elisa Babel, MLS

Louisiana Purchase

Louisiana Purchase

The room where the Louisiana Purchase was signed.  How an apartment in 1850 would’ve been furnished.  The magnificence of historic St. Louis Cathedral. Documents written in Spanish, French, and English. How New Orleans celebrated Mardi Gras in yesteryears. These are a few of the things I saw while visiting the museums in the French Quarter.

This was my third ALA Annual and my first time in New Orleans. I stayed at the Holiday Inn-French Quarter on Royal Street so history was on the doorstep.

June 24

Friday was my free day so I spent the day discovering the history of the city.  After going to the convention center to get my badge and tote, I set out for the afternoon in the French Quarter. I had an early lunch at Café Beignet which was a short walk from my hotel.  I enjoyed a croissant sandwich and a side of beignets.  Délicieux! Delicious!  I liked the Café because it was quieter and not as busy.

My first museum stop was the Historic New Orleans Collection complex on Royal Street.  Here I viewed “The Threads of Memory” exhibit–a display of rarely seen documents about the Spanish presence in North America. The collection also included some documents on Louisiana under French control and then American acquisition. Moving on to the next gallery, I was impressed by colonial Spanish religious art in North America.

Cathedral St. Louis

My next stop was at St. Louis Cathedral, the Mother Church of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. The church is named for the royal patron saint of France. The Cathedral has a long history and is the oldest continuously used Catholic cathedral in the United States. I was impressed by the magnificent interior.  One of my favorite parts of the building was the ceiling. I spent a few minutes praying and took a few photos. The next day I returned for the 5 pm Mass after a long day at the convention center.  As a souvenir of my attendance, I took the church bulletin on my way out.

After leaving the Cathedral, I went to the Cabildo.  This building had once served as the seat of government during Spanish colonial rule. Later it was home of the Louisiana State Supreme Court before it became a museum in 1911.  Aside from learning a few facts in school, I never knew about the city’s long and rich history. It had changed hands between the French and Spanish before the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.  On the second floor, I visited the room where the signing took place and the painting of the 1803 ceremony.  I remembered seeing that painting in my American history textbook in grade school.  When I finished visiting all the exhibit rooms, I’d gotten a fascinating tour of New Orleans through time.

Before leaving my hotel earlier, I had made a reservation for a 4 pm walking tour of the French Quarter.  I met my tour guide Mike from Magic Tours in front of K-Joe’s Restaurant. Two others were supposed to come but they didn’t!  We walked through the French Quarter, stopping at various landmarks along the way including Jackson Square, the riverfront, Napoleon House, the Pharmacy Museum, and Madam John’s Legacy.  Mike told me fascinating historical bits and architecture about the city.  I now know why oversized colored water jars were placed in period pharmacy windows. Duelling behind the Cathedral? I’m sure the priests weren’t happy about that!  Since it was a hot day, Mike frequently directed me towards shade.

June 28

I had the morning free before going to the airport and home.  I went to the 1850 House off Jackson Square.  This is one of the buildings built by the Baroness Micaela Almonester de Pontalba in 1850 hence the name. I entered the house through the gift shop on the ground floor and mounted a staircase. The rooms are furnished as they would have been of the time period.  Various families lived there along with their slaves and household staff in the back.  In 1927 it became a state museum.

New Orleans Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras New Orleans

My second and final museum was the Presbytere next to St. Louis Cathedral. Originally the Presbytere housed the Capuchins, a Catholic religious order.  In the 19th century it was used as a courthouse then became a state museum in 1911. Originally I didn’t plan to go.  A reproduction of a 19th century Mardi Gras poster outside did it for me. Once inside, I ran into one of my colleagues as she was coming out from an exhibit on Hurricane Katrina. We went up to the Mardi Gras exhibit on the second floor.  It’s a fun exploration of how this New Orleans tradition evolved over the centuries.  There’s also a room about how Mardi Gras is celebrated by the Cajuns in the nearby Louisiana parishes.

Afterwards we went out to lunch near the Cabildo and then I had to leave for the airport.  Although most of my time was split between the convention center and the French Quarter, I had a great time in New Orleans.

Just as you get a generous serving of food in any restaurant in New Orleans, I could say the same about its local history.  Plus having a few beignets on the side.

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Librarian Bill of Rights

Librarian Bill of Rights and Ethical Librarians

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There have been many excellent and intriguing responses so far regarding instances of unethical librarianship and untrustworthy trustees. Those responses will be aggregated  here on Best of Publib.
 
One of the interesting comments received was from Diedre Conkling formerly with the ALA Committee on Professional Ethics:
 
On Mon, Feb 28, 2011 at 3:58 PM, Diedre Conkling  wrote:

 There are many reason’s why the ALA Code of Ethics can’t be enforced on librarians, ALA members or the local level.  We, the Committee on Professional Ethics, recently studied this issue for about 3 years.  The study included open forums for input on the code, how to change it and how to enforce it.  We also looked at what is done in other organizations.  The only organizations that can enforce a code of ethics are licensing agencies.  ALA is not one of these.

 
So, even though ALA has eloquently and elegantly described how to be ethical, all of that work on behalf of the profession by professional librarians only has the authority of suggestion and consensus. On the other hand, unethical librarianship and untrustworthy trustees are the product of the powerful slippery slope.  In some environments the slope is much slippier and the pitch is much greater.

Maybe it just begins with a small compromise of ethics:

  • Did the trustee lose a book? Don’t charge them for it. They are more important than the other patrons.
  • Do you want a good evaluation?  Then hire the trustee’s cousin over a more qualified applicant. 
  • Trustee wants you to give no-bid work to one of their friends or relatives –  go along with it.  
  • Trustee doesn’t want you to provide access to public records about the no-bid work? Lose the info.
  • Meeting minutes?  What meeting minutes? 
No real harm done and you generated some good will with your trustee.  Maybe the trustee likes what you did for them, gives you a raise and authorizes a trip from library funds for you to Key West.   Hey, it is just tax dollars, no one will miss it. Come on.  Everyone does it. Don’t rock the boat. Wink, wink – nudge, nudge.
 
On the other hand, hire the more qualified applicant, treat the trustee equally, make sure funds are allocated properly, support the First Amendment, equal protection under the law and provide lawful access to public records and as an at-will public servant you could lose your job.  There is no effective protection for your profession by your profession.
 

Justice

In Rhode Island – along with many other locations, the slope is just about as slick as it can get.  The political pressure to do the wrong thing can be enormous.  The way that another important group of professionals charged with providing equal protection under the law dealt with the ethical dilemma was the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights. The Fraternal Order of Police helped to promote the Bill of Rights to protect their members from political reprisal for doing their jobs.  Many other states have adopted similar laws.

 
I believe that a *Librarian* Bill of Rights (not to be confused with Library Bill of Rights) should be promoted and adopted by the States  as a method to protect the public interest by protecting public librarians in the commission of their lawful duties as administrators, information professionals, and managers of the public trust.
 
Librarians should  have the duty,  right, and protection under the law to act in their professional capacities to:
  • Uphold U.S. Constitution/Federal/State laws
  • Support the First Amendment
  • Support FOIA and Open Meetings/Access to Public Records statutes
  • Conduct library activities using standard principles of accounting
  • Report to appropriate entity – elected officials – without fear of reprisal  – except for malicious intent – any misfeasance/violation of law –  by Board of Trustees or individual trustee
  • Unless declined – right to have evaluations discussed in public
  • Right to review credentials of Board of Trustee applicants – if  Trustees are required to *have*  credentials – prior to appointment

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Best of PubLib ALA Midwinter Exhibit Hall Review

Best of PubLib at the ALA Midwinter Meeting Exhibit Hall Review

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

 
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Boston Convention and Exhibition Center

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

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

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

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

LibraryThing.com/forLibraries

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

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

New York Times

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

III

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Best of PubLib at ALA-Midwinter Update

American Library Association Mid-Winter Meeting

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

LIS Alumni Reunion during ALA

Hello everyone!  My name is Elisa Babel, and I’m the new contributing editor to BestofPUBLIB. 

For those of you who attended ALA Annual in Chicago, I hope you had a great time, whether it was your first time or a repeat visit.  I hadn’t been in Chicago in 11 years so it was exciting to be back.

Here goes with my first post…

On Sunday, July 12, I attended the Cooperative Library and Information Science Alumni Reunion which was held in the Grand Ballroom at the Westin River North Hotel during ALA Annual in Chicago.

Alumni from nineteen participating library schools across the country came for a light dinner buffet and fellowship. (Eight other schools including Syracuse University, UC Berkley, University of Chicago, and Indiana University had private gatherings at hotels and restaurants throughout downtown Chicago)  Many tables were near full to completely filled.  It was a wonderful break from workshops and exhibits at ALA.

It was pleasure to see a library professor that I was acquainted with and a few current students from my school at our table.  I enjoyed hearing news from campus, impressions about the conference, and the library job search.  If you were able to attend, I hope you enjoyed the experience. It was a fun and informal atmosphere, and I’m glad I attended. 

Here’s a listing of the 19 library schools that participated the alumni reunion:   ALISE at ALA

This Week in Best of Publib

Best of Publib Current Topics and Meeting at ALA

This week in Best of Publib includes an interesting combination of self-revelation, librarian aspirations, and children’s literature. Topics we will be reviewing include:

  • Don’t Kid Yourself / Children’s Books / Childcraft
  • If I were a rich man / woman / lottery winnner
  • Visiting librarians – housing librarian travelers
  • Classic literature – definitions and classifications

Diane Harmon – Associate Director at Joliet Public Library – reminds everyone of the upcoming PubLib gathering at ALA being held at:

PUBLIB Get-together at ALA Annual 2009 5:30 p.m. -
Whenever, Friday, July 10, 2009 Sol y Nieve
215 E. Ohio St. Chicago, IL 60611
312.467.7177
 http://www.emiliostapas.com/solynieve.htm

To all the ALA attendees, have a great time and remember the lessons learned in Seattle.

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