Monthly Archives: May 2006

The Boss!

Bumper sticker of the weekend: “Jesus is coming. Look busy.”


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Filed under Miscellaneous, Things that make you go, "Hmmm..."


Wonderful post in Something New Every Day about librarians promoting ourselves as “Knowledge Provocateurs.” One of the items that resounded with PK Christ – and with me – is the idea that librarians need to exert more influence on the Internet.

One small way to start exerting influence is for librarians to flood Answers with answers. I’ve answered a few questions, citing proper references (usually the Librarian’s Index to the Internet) and have been chosen “Best Answer” an inordinate number of times. One person who chose mine as the best answer noted that “She’s really helpful!”

Perhaps we should be reaching out to people where they are and impressing them with our knowledge and skills….and they just might find their way into a library for help!

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Filed under Libraries and Librarianship


Jessamyn West at has a thoughtful post on the subject of library fines. Barb Misselt at the Multitype Librarian does, too.

I understand the hesitation that large libraries have in eliminating fines. Some of them rack up close to seven figures in fines annually, and that’s a lot of operating budget to lose.

I would challenge smaller libraries whose fines are annually relatively small to make their libraries fine-free. My former library in Sidney, Nebraska was one of those libraries. The staff had convinced the board to eliminate fines before I started my tenure there, and that was fine with me. (no pun intended – really.)

The staff was seeing children who weren’t able to use the library, because their parents couldn’t afford the fines. And that didn’t sit very well. They felt very strongly that those children who could least afford fines were the very children who most needed the library. Additionally, we really didn’t care if you paid a quarter fine – we just wanted the book back! You would get a few notes from us if the book (or whatever – I’m using book as the universal material here) was drastically overdue, reminding you to return it. After three months, you got a bill for the book. It would usually turn up at that point, but we did have folks who would have to pay us for having lost the book.

We would occasionally discuss fines at library meetings in the Nebraska Panhandle, and there were a few libraries who also had eliminated fines. Those who had fines usually had amnesty days on a fairly regular basis, which usually resulted in enormous numbers of materials being dumped on the library on that day. Most of them were seriously considering asking their boards to allow them to eliminate fines, too…and the headaches that went along with them. The sob stories. The truly sad stories. The angry patrons. The forgetful patrons. One creative librarian solved the problem by handing the offending patron (usually a middle-school student) a dust rag, allowing them to dust the library to pay off the fine. Her library was always clean!

What most likely started out as a disincentive to keeping a book too long has become too much of a money-making venture for larger libraries. And that’s a real shame. The kids who aren’t going to the Major City Library because they owe a fine are the very kids who need the Major City Library the most.

Isn’t there a better way to do this?


Filed under Customer Service, Libraries and Librarianship

Oh. Dear. God.

As a former optician, all I can say is “Eeeew! Eeeew! Eeeeew!


Filed under Things that make you go, "Hmmm..."

TTWMN Day Five

Large and excited crowd at the Ridgedale Public Library in Hennepin County! We started the day having breakfast with some librarians in a charming place in Wayzata. Then it was on the the workshop. Michael was fabulous, as usual.

I’m now home, safe and sound, and resting up from a very busy week. What a wonderful experience! (Below is a photo snapped of Michael and me…)

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TTWMN Day Four

Really exciting, rousing session today in Mountain Iron. The group was very engaged, very curious about the new L2 tools, and anxious to jump into the deep end of the pool. I’m headed back in June to teach Blogging to anyone who’s interested.

In our new search for Really Enormous Statuary, we were told – much to our disappointment – that the local Really Enormous Loon was not yet up for the season. (It apparently hibernates.) However, we were alerted to the Really Large Hockey Stick, which is in Eveleth. I needed to either take the Batman photo (seen here) or walk across the street to get the whole thing in.

On to Minneapolis and tomorrow’s packed session at the Ridgedale Public Library in Hennepin County.

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Mary Beth & Paul Bunyan

Mary Beth & Paul Bunyan
Originally uploaded by mstephens7.

I got to sit in Paul’s hand, too….


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City guides

Just discovered a site that offers free pod city guides. There are a number of major cities available all over the world. You download them to your iPod, and away you go.

An enterprising library could throw a bunch of these on iPod Shuffles and check ’em out….

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Filed under Miscellaneous, Techie stuff

TTWMN Day Three

Lovely day in Detroit Lakes. Absolutely beautiful library – one of those Carnegies that has been remodeled very, very well. There were these lovely friezes mounted on the wall. Michael found out they were discovered in the basement during the remodel, and were so pristine they were able to be used as models for the new part of the building.

After the presentation, we headed out on the road for Mt. Iron. Lovely, lovely scenery. Lots of lakes and trees and lakes and trees. And then, we saw Paul.
He's got Michael in his hand....

Yes, that’s Paul Bunyan with Michael in the palm of his hand. Apparently, Minnesota is the Land of Enormous Statuary. We heard there was a huge turkey just outside Detroit Lakes, but we weren’t able to visit since it wasn’t on our route. Maybe next time.

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Willmar, MN. Beautiful library. Great group of folks – interested, engaged, and willing to take on new ideas and try new stuff. Hopefully, they’ll go forth and blog, or wiki, or RSS…

Traveled from Willmar to Detroit Lakes. Beautiful day, and beautiful scenery. Lakes and lakes and lakes.

En route, we passed the Belgrade Centennial Memorial. With a Really Big Crow. I mean Really Big Crow. We couldn’t resist stopping and taking some photos.

Tomorrow will be the Detroit Public Library…

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