Monthly Archives: May 2007

Thanks, Ben.

We’re spoiled, in this country. We’re spoiled by lots of things, but the point of this post is that we’re spoiled by the public libraries that dot the country, thanks in large part to Benjamin Franklin.

Most Americans in the 1730s had limited access to books. Books, in early America, were rare and expensive. There were no public libraries. Only the very wealthy and the clergy had access to large numbers of books. Even men of moderate means could not readily afford books. Enter Benjamin Franklin.

On July 1, 1731, Franklin and a group of members from the Junto, a philosophical association, drew up “Articles of Agreement” to form a library. The Junto was interested in a wide range of ideas, from economics to solving social woes to politics to science. But they could not turn to books to increase their knowledge or settle disputes, as between them they owned few tomes. But they recognized that via the Junto’s combined purchasing power, books could be made available to all members.

So it was that 50 subscribers invested 40 shillings each to start a library. Members also promised to invest 10 shillings more every year to buy additional books and to help maintain the library. They chose as their motto a Latin phrase which roughly translates as “To support the common good is divine.” Philip Syng, a silversmith who would one day create the inkstand with which the Declaration and Constitution were signed, designed the Company’s seal.

We’ve had the luxury and privilege of the access to a public library in this country since before it was a country. Not so in much of the rest of the world, as is evidenced by a rather poignant editorial in a Bangladesh newspaper. (Emphasis mine.)

To educate the nation in the truest sense, the establishment of public library is a must. In order to remove the curse of illiteracy from our beloved motherland, public library can also play a very important role. If the authority concerned provides essential infrastructural facilities and recruits trained and experienced manpower, public libraries can be used as mass education centres, especially in rural areas. Poor students of the rural areas (and even urban areas) can be benefited by borrowing books from public library.

Read the whole thing. And then thank the Founding Fathers – Ben, especially – for having the foresight to provide this country with a wealth of information, available and accessible to all.


Filed under Libraries and Librarianship

Monterey, Watch out!

Co-worker and buddy Aurora and I have attended Internet Librarian two years in a row.  The first was very shortly after both of us were hired, and so it was an educational experience both from the conference standpoint and from the standpoint of getting to know someone you’ve just met.  Luckily, we get along just fine and had a great time.

It was that first conference that motivated both of us to come home and start a blog.

My how times have changed!

We just got word late last week that our speaking proposal for IL2007 has been accepted:

3:15 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

D105  Advocacy 2.0
Aurora Jacobsen, Information Services Librarian, & Mary Beth Sancomb-Moran, Advocacy Coordinator,Southeastern Libraries Cooperating (SELCO)
Librarians are continuing to work on increasing visibility within our communities and with our political leaders. To increase our politicians’ knowledge of libraries, we must become advocates. As politicians are increasingly using Web 2.0 tools, are we ready to meet them in this new arena? This session discusses the ways to use Web 2.0 technology to reach our legislators, find demographic information, and provide an overview of the ways government is reaching out to our community.

How cool is that?!  Monterey, here we come again…..

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Filed under Libraries and Librarianship, Me and mine, Techie stuff

Who cares?

I was in an interesting meeting the other day with one of the local public librarians in our region and the head of the local public television station. We were discussing possible collaborative projects when the librarian mentioned the people she knows who are still unclear on computers…..and why they should care.

Many of us learned computers because we’ve had jobs that required we do so. Others learned because they were curious about this new technology. Still others were dragged, kicking and screaming, into the computer age. And, of course, there are those who are digital natives, like my DSD, who grew up with them and don’t think of a computer as any more puzzling than a telephone.

There’s another group of folks out there. We see them every now and then in our libraries. They come in, tentative, asking about the computers. And they’re shy because they need to use the computer, but don’t know how and feel foolish asking. We offer classes and gently guide them through the intricacies of the Web, teaching them how to fill out the job application or shop or e-mail their son in Iraq.

But Ann touched on the group out there who just don’t get the whole computer thing….and don’t really care. They don’t know why they should care. Not infrequently, if you talk to one of these folks and mention that you can shop, or search for your ancestors, or e-mail your son/daughter/mother/cousin/college roommate, or book a cruise….well, then they start to understand why this new thing might be kind of fun to have around and get to know.

My mind traveled down this path as a result of this story (emphasis mine):

LONDON (Reuters) – A British judge admitted on Wednesday he was struggling to cope with basic terms like “Web site” in the trial of three men accused of inciting terrorism via the Internet.

Judge Peter Openshaw broke into the questioning of a witness about a Web forum used by alleged Islamist radicals.

“The trouble is I don’t understand the language. I don’t really understand what a Web site is,” he told a London court during the trial of three men charged under anti-terrorism laws.

Prosecutor Mark Ellison briefly set aside his questioning to explain the terms “Web site” and “forum.” An exchange followed in which the 59-year-old judge acknowledged: “I haven’t quite grasped the concepts.”

Now, be honest. When I was referring earlier to the folks who don’t get it and don’t know why they should care, your mind immediately jumped to your 80-year old mother, right? Perhaps that’s why this story struck me so. This judge is an educated BABY BOOMER.

So.  We have a lot more work out there than we might have thought.  There’s a whole population that has no idea what the Web is about, why it could be useful, and why they should care.

We need to help them understand and discover.   As Information Professionals, this is another tool in our vast repertoire of information sources, and we need to be helping folks discover how it might help them, just as we helped people understand other information formats over the years.

We need to help them care.  In the memorable words of a character on the television series The West Wing,

“This just in: The Internet is not a fad.”


Filed under Customer Service, Libraries and Librarianship

L’Étoile du Nord

From the Library of Congress blog, a note about Minnesota’s entry into the union.

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Library phone sex?

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard the story of the Vienna library who is raising money by reading Victorian erotica to callers for 53 cents a minute.

It’s unusual, but it’s not particularly raunchy: Callers pay 53 cents a minute to listen to an actress read breathless passages from erotica dating to the Victorian era.

City Hall set up the hotline earlier this month to help the library raise cash for planned remodeling and expansion, Austrian media reported.

Anne Bennent, a famous Austrian stage and film star, reads passages from the Vienna library’s collection of 1,200 works of erotic fiction from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, the library said.

I started seeing this story in news articles a few days ago, and thought it was a bit amusing. But now, I’m seeing it everywhere. Something about this piques the interest of the general public.

For many, the idea that anything related to a library can be erotic is amazing. (On behalf of librarians everywhere, Gee Thanks.) While I’m not sure I’d want to wander down this path in my library, I’m guessing they’re going to raise a bit of money doing this. Though, come to think of it, I have been told on more than one occasion that I have a voice for phone sex. Who knew I could combine that with a library career and be a star…

I’m not sure how I feel about all this, exactly. On the one hand, it’s certainly a good publicity stunt, if nothing else. I do wonder what the library thinks about all this. The various articles I’ve seen are all the same AP story from the wire, so I haven’t read any other details, but the City Hall seems to have been the body that came up with this idea.

It’s one thing to point out that the library has a collection of Victorian erotica. (See? We have cool smutty stuff, too….but it’s old, so it’s not really smutty.) It feels like creeping over a line to be performing same. And boy, I am not the priggish type…but something about this bothers me.

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Surveying the Blogosphere

A survey is being conducted about the blogosphere and who is taking part in it.

If you have a few minutes, take the survey.

I have a few thoughts on how the survey is constructed; I’d be interested in hearing what you think.


Filed under Blogging, Miscellaneous

We’ll miss you, Kay

Please keep my friend Charlie and his family in your prayers.  Charlie’s Mom, Kay, died in a fire this week.

WTMJ’s Charlie Sykes confirmed that his mother, Katherine B. Sykes, died in afire at her home in Mequon this afternoon. She was 87 years old.

Kay Sykes was a warm, intelligent, and generous woman who took great pride in her son’s work as a writer and broadcaster. She delighted in her three grandchildren and was very proud of their academic, athletic, and artistic achievements. She loved books, music, and nature. She lived a full life, and her family and friends will deeply miss her.

Charlie wishes to thank his listeners for their thoughts and prayers at this difficult time. And he wants to express his deep gratitude to all of you who have offered your condolences.

Kay was a lovely, warm , fascinating woman.  We’ll all miss her.

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Breeding, Part 4

The evaluation of electronic products and services and make appropriate recommendations for selection.

Electronic Resource Management  – an automated tool for managing subscriptions to electronic content: e-journals, A&I databases, full-text databases.

E-Journal Holdings data – knowledge base of the specific journals and coverage held in each of the aggregated database products.

ERM background: interest in an automation module for managing electronic resources has arisen because of the limitations of the serials and acquisition modules to deal with all of the parameters related to the licenses.

COUNTER statistics

  • Counting Online Usage of NeTworked Electronic Resources
  • Guidelines for the way that publishers of electronics subscriptions provide statistics for a subscribing institution
  • Counter guidelines in effect since January 2003
  • Project Counter web site


  • Standards Usage Statistics Harvesting Initiative
  • A mechanism for automatically harvesting COUNTER statistics from publishers
  • A computer-to-computer protocol
  • Implemented as a Web service
  • Relies on XML version of COUNTER reports
  • Generally implemented within an ERM

SUSHI background: creation of the standard was facilitated by NISO.  It’s a fast-track initiative that has gained rapid adoption by vendors.  Adopted in about January 2006.

Question: How can the use of COUNTER statistics and SUSHI improve the development of collections of electronic resources?

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Breeding, Part 3

Wireless Networks in Libraries and RFID

Wireless Basics

  • uses radio frequency transmission over the air instead of network cabling
  • stable and reliable technology
  • increasing in popularity in business and home computing

[Lots of very technical information on wireless architectures, infrastructure modes, transmission details, 802.11b channels, range per access points, etc. ]

Wired networks will always be faster and offer higher performance. Wireless technologies have limitations; does not supplant the need to install copper and fiber network cabling in new buildings.

Wireless can have some security issues.

  • eavesdropping a major concern
  • unprotected wireless access points offer easy entry for mobile hackers
  • many rogue wireless LANS were put up in corporate networks without IT support or adequate security
  • War driving/ War chalking
  • some war driving/freeloading happens in residential settings

Need to position your wireless network so that it’s shielded from sensitive information like patron accounts. Position the network outside the organization’s firewall; the hardened core remains protected.

Encryption is necessary to ensure security. Sensitive data must be encrypted when it’s transmitted across any untrusted network. Most encryption algorithms use a secure key to encode the data and decode it after transmission. The longer the key, the more difficult it is to use brute force to decrypt the message.

Avoid wireless technologies for sensitive networks. Wireless is not appropriate for networks that carry confidential or sensitive information. Protect the core network services with internal firewalls.

Library applications – Wireless access policies

  • open unauthenticated access?
  • display appropriate use click-through page?
  • filter?
  • require authentication by library card number?

The more pervasive wireless is, the more you’re letting yourself be passed by without it. Travelers are increasingly expecting wireless at the public libraries.
It is becoming increasingly expected that students on college campuses will have wireless access to their laptop computers throughout the campus. The vision of a fully-connected classroom can be fully realized inexpensively.

Wireless laptops provide access to library resources brought into the library by patrons. Library-supplied laptops can supplement public access workstations. Laptops offer library users more flexibility and convenience in accessing resources throughout the library.

Laptops create the possibility of mobile labs, which can be used for training and outreach sessions outside the library. Training labs in the library can be set up and dismantled on demand.

Staff applications: remote circulation tasks, tracking in-library use of materials, inventory. PDAs can be used instead of PCs or laptops.

Many cell phones now have internet access. Libraries may see a future demand to make their services available to cell phones and other small wireless devices.

RFID: Radio Frequency Identification

In libraries, is an alternate technology for identification of physical library materials. RFID Tags are placed in each item. RFID scanners are at circulation desks and other service points.

Advantages: can charge/discharge multiple items simultaneously. Offers more automated scanning for inventory; facilitates self-checkout capabilities. RFID can also operate with exit gate security; replaces the need to place security strips.

Disadvantages: higher cost – tags are far more expensive than barcodes. Failure rate of tags, obsolescence of tags, some security concerns. The technology for RFID is continually evolving.

RFID planning

  • consider total cost of ownership
    • cost of tags
    • cost of equipment
    • supporting software
    • labor costs for installing tags
    • re-tagging collection as technology changes
    • annual support costs on self-check equipment


Wireless Libraries

WebJunction Wireless Forum

Network World



Wi-fi Planet

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Breeding, Part 2

Web 2.0 and Beyond

How to incorporate computer-based resources and new technology in library services

Heightened user expectations

  • library users come with expectations set by their experience on the Web
  • conventions for navigating and exploring Web-based resources well established
  • dealing with large and complex bodies of information nothing new
  • sophisticated web skills
  • low tolerance for clunky and ineffective web sites
  • confident in their ability – reluctant to ask for help

Problems with the Status Quo

  • a look and feel that may not meet the expectations of the current generation of web-savvy users
  • the conventional library environment requires users to interact with many different interfaces, and search many different resources
  • overly complex
  • not always intuitive
  • users have to go to different places to find different kinds of information on a given topic

Web 2.0 is a blend of the traditional web and social computing.  Dynamic content, highly interactive, collaborative.  Users can get involved in the creation of the website.

Web 2.0 examples: RSS, blogs, wikis, Instant Messaging (IM), podcasting, etc.  Breaks the bounds of one-dimensional communication. Web 2.0 is about media beyond text.  The spirit of Web 2.0: YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, Flickr

Web 3.0

  • Web 2.0 plus Artificial Intelligence
  • Semantic web
  • Web 2.0 plus enterprise computing.  Instead of building individual web services, you have a suite of services that communicate amongst themselves

Library 2.0

  • Michael Casey first mentioned the concept
  • Web 2.0 plus library = Library 2.0
  • Apply Web 2.0 concepts to library applications
  • library blogs
  • new book lists through RSS
  • Wikis
    • intranets for staff documentation
    • collaborative resources for library users

    Enriched library catalogs

  • user participation in library resources
    • user tagging in catalog
    • reviews
    • ratings


  • the Web has been evolving since the very beginning
  • Web 2.0 didn’t happen all at once – don’t get hung up on 2.0; it’s been happening all along the way.  It’s a part of an ever-rising evolution


  • apply when appropriate
  • Web 2.0 can create isolated silos of information
  • Must evolve into an organized fabric of interrelated Web services
  • There are too many dead blogs and wikis already!

Web 2.0 started in 2004.  Time on the web can be measured in dog years, making the concept of Web 2.0 21 years old.  We’ve been talking about this stuff for a long time.
Web 2.0 is a good start.  It’s a more social and collaborative approach.”Everyone is so 2.0, they forget to be library, sometimes.”  (Love that.)

Library OPAC 1.0

  • feature rich, but complex
  • advanced boolean search
  • textual displays
  • results in alphabetical order or catalog key order
  • slow, cumbersome
  • focused on the physical inventory

Widespread dissatisfaction with most of the current OPACs.  Many efforts towards next generation catalogs and interfaces.  Movement among libraries to break out of the current mold of library catalogs and offer new interfaces better-suited to the expectations of library users.  Need to decouple the front-end interface from the back-end library automation system.

Library OPAC 2.0

  • satisfying to the web-savvy user
  • faceted browsing – drill-down model of search
  • graphical displays – cover art images
  • enriched content
  • user tagging, folksonomies, ratings, reviews
  • federated search as a separate service

Library OPAC 3.0

  •  Comprehensive search environment
  • beyond MARC metadata: full-text searching
  • Searching “inside the book”
  • fully integrated with other community and campus resources
  • ILS fully integrated with other information and business systems

Challenges and opportunities abound.  This is an exciting time for libraries.  Web 2.0 fuels new excitement for modernizing library services and supporting technologies.  There are opportunities presented by the explosive growth of digital content.  Hard work is required to draw the new generation to library content and services without breaking what works well for those from previous generations.

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