Monthly Archives: March 2008

Build your Wild Self

The New York Zoos and Aquarium have a delightful interactive tool online that allows you to Build Your Wild Self.  It’s great fun and educational, too!  Here’s one version of my wild self:

Those are reindeer antlers, a penguin bottom, polar bear ears, and wings and tail from a lesser bird of paradise.  The final version of yourself explains all of these parts.  (I found out, for example, that my penguin legs do have knees – you just can’t see them for the feathers.) Try it yourself….and bring a kid along!


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Filed under Customer Service, Libraries and Librarianship, Me and mine

Porn Yet Again

This issue just keeps rearing its ugly head.  Now the issue involves a librarian who alerted the police to a patron viewing child porn on a library computer, contrary to the wishes of the supervisor.

Brenda Biesterfeld, a librarian assistant in Lindsay, California, was ordered by her supervisor not to report a man who was looking at pictures of naked boys on the library’s public computer.  She called police anyway.  On the 39-year-old man’s next visit, police caught him allegedly viewing child pornography. 

The man, Donny Lynn Chrisler, was arrested on March 4 on suspicion of violating child pornography and obscenity laws.  Police say they found “kiddie porn” in Chrisler’s trailer home.

Biesterfeld said she had a hostile conversation with her supervisor, Judi Hill, after she ignored the supervisor’s orders and notified police.  “She kind of threatened me,” Biesterfeld said.  “She said I worked for the county, and when the county tells you to do something, you do what the county tells you. She said I had no loyalty to the county. I told her I was a mother and a citizen also, and not just a county employee.”

Biesterfeld was fired on March 6.  A letter from Tulare County Librarian Brian Lewis said that probationary employees such as Biesterfeld can be terminated at any time if they don’t perform at a level “necessary for fully satisfactory performance in the employee’s position.”

However, a Lindsay city councilwoman said that six weeks before the firing, she was told that Biesterfeld was doing a great job.

On March 14, the Linsdsay City Council sent a letter to Tulare county supervisors complaining about Judi Hill’s “abrupt, demanding and demeaning” phone call to a police captain telling him to call off his pornography investigation because the city had “no business interfering” with library matters.

Randy Thomasson, president of the Campaign for Children and Families, criticized the county library administrators.  “The liberals who run the library system in America must stop violating the federal law because they regard child pornography as free speech,” he said.

“All pornography is immoral, but possession of child pornography is a federal crime. No librarian should fear reporting child pornography to the police, but libraries that fail to report these crimes should be very afraid. Brenda Biesterfeld will get her job back, and more.”

The Campaign for Children and Families said that the American Library Association  does not instruct librarians to report child pornography incidents to the police.  “Instead, the association has vigorously opposed all congressional efforts to restrict pornography, obscenity and child pornography for more than a decade,” the campaign claims.

A few library bloggers have weighed in on the case.  The Effing Librarian has this to say:

Brenda Biesterfeld was screwed either way.

A library worker in the town of Lindsay reported to police last week that a man was looking at child pornography on one of the library computers, and because of that tip, police arrested 39-year-old Donny Chrisler. But she also lost her job over the incident.

I don’t know which is the greater sin that she could have been nailed for if she followed her supervisor’s orders:
Withholding information from the authorities when you’ve witnessed a crime, or Violating privacy Statutes by entering “child pornographer” into a patron record.

But she ignored the supervisor and did this, the story says:

Brenda Biesterfeld says by calling the police, she disobeyed the direction of a supervisor. The supervisor told her to make a note on the man’s library account and tell him to stop looking at the pictures.


That’s the official procedure???? It happens so often that the supervisor has that as a plan???? Make a note?????????????????????????

Good point.  Mary Minow at LibraryLaw blog– who is an attorney as well as a librarian – has this to say:

Child pornography is NOT protected free speech.  If you see someone looking at child porn in the library, call the police. 

If you see only the website and no patron, you can still report it to the FBI or Cyber Tip Line 800-843-5678

Here’s a point where pro-filter and pro-open access folks can agree. 

While librarians are right to be concerned with protecting the rights of our patrons, at some point common sense needs to trump philosophy. 


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Things 9 & 10: collaboration

I’ve played around with a few of these tools,  and they can definitely make sharing easier.  Google Docs is an easy way to share documents without having to email back and forth – just put the document online. You can choose who to share the document with, and you can even discuss the document back and forth while you both work on it.  Very cool.

Wikis can be very helpful, and a number of libraries in our region are using them as information portals for staff.  At MPOW, we have a wiki that is, frankly, not being used very much.  It is used occasionally and has proved very useful in that area – we’ve stored the usernames and passwords for the various and sundry online sites where we have a “corporate” account. 

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Thing 8: presentations and sharing

I decided to try Thumbstacks for this task.  Looks like a useful tool, though I had a bit of trouble figuring out how to work with the interface.  It’s like MS Powerpoint….but not exactly.  I couldn’t figure out how to add a slide, or to easily change the look of the slides.  That being said, I do think this will be a useful tool at some point. 

It’s not terribly exciting, but you can take a look at my presentation.  (such as it is….)

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Moving On

I am moving on to a new POW in April.

The University of Minnesota, Rochester is a new campus, with a sparkly new Information Commons.  I’ll be helping to create the IC for the students and will, hopefully, help the UMR campus grow.

I’m in the process of reading everything I can get my hands on regarding academic libraries and the Information Commons as a concept.  At this point, the library’s collection at UMR is virtual; I don’t know if or when that may change.  Given the scope of the majors that are offered, I have a feeling the collection will work best as a virtual one – the presence of the Mayo Clinic and IBM in Rochester lead to very tech- and medically-oriented degrees (and students.)

This will be a great challenge and should prove to be great fun.  I must admit I’ve been missing working in a library.  I’ve also missed interacting with people – I spend a great deal of time in my office at a computer.  For those of you familiar with Meyers-Briggs, I’m an ENFP, so you can imagine how well being alone all day suits me.  (For those of you not familiar with Meyers-Briggs, the answer is: not at all.)

I’ll miss the folks I’m working with, but will no doubt see them at various functions.  (One of them I’ll see often – she and her husband and two darling kidlets moved next door recently. )

Any and all recommendations/experiences/advice dealing with academic libraries and Information Commons are very welcome!


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We in the midst of Strategic Planning here at MPOW.   And we’re lucky enough to be led through the process by Toni Garvey, of the Phoenix Public Library.

Our first task was to take a look at our mission statement.  The existing mission statement wasn’t bad, but it was typical of many.  It was too long, it was too wordy, and no one could remember the thing.  We were asked to come up with a mission statement was succinctly stated why we came to work every day.   After deliberating, we came up with this:

We connect libraries.

I love it.  It’s short, to the point, and is an excellent starting point for those elevator speeches, trying to explain what we do.

The next step was to look at the guiding principles.  Again, they were long and not particularly memorable.  I found that it was easier for me to frame them in terms of what we believe, and the group agreed.  So, our new guiding principles are there:

We believe:

  • libraries enrich communities
  • libraries are stronger when they work together
  • in a shared approach to problem-solving
  • in a culture of innovation and exploration
  • in partnership, collaboration, and communication
  • in a community of trust and respect.

I love them.

Today we have a full-day meeting with librarians throughout the region, talking further about the plan.   Stay tuned.  But I think we’ve got a really good start.

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No Joy on the Tundra

Well, it finally happened. Brett Favre has announced his retirement.

The Internet is abuzz with the news, as are friends and coworkers. Those who aren’t Packer fans are checking to see how DH and I are handling the news. Those who are Packer fans are sharing the sadness.

I’m listening to Charlie’s show in Milwaukee, and he’s getting phone calls and emails from people all over the world who are saddened by the news. I’m actually finding myself getting a bit teary-eyed.

There is something about Favre. He’s an amazing athlete, of course. But there’s something more. He seems like a nice guy. He seems like the kind of guy you could have over for a beer.

There are games we’ll never forget because of this one man. The amazing game he played after his father died makes me tear up just thinking about it. I loved watching him play, running around like a teenager, grinning ear-to-ear. Picking Driver up and throwing him over his shoulder. Joking with the opposing linemen as they tried to sack him. Watching him was just fun.

In some respects, I feel sorry for Aaron Rodgers. What an act to have to follow….

Thanks for all the fun, Brett. We’ll miss you.

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