Monthly Archives: November 2008

Virtually Unique

Interesting developments in the last few days.  Grad school buddy Susan alerted me to a conversation happening on a listserv (to which I do not subscribe) discussing virtual academic libraries.  I thought it was interesting that it was a topic of conversation but didn’t think much of it.

Today, I got an email from Frank Bridge, who is the Technology Management Administrator for the Chesterfield County Public Library in Virginia.  Would I be willing to talk to him about the virtual library?

Those of you who know me know that getting me to talk is hardly a difficult task.  Of course, I said yes.  And we had a very interesting conversation.

We talked about the library, how having a virtual collection is just fine, and how the paradigms need to change for many of our library brethren.  We also had a great conversation about how things are changing in the world of the public library, and how we can help our respective staffs keep up with the new skills our patrons will expect them to know.

Frank plans to check back with me in a year, to see how things are going.  (Couldn’t convince him to visit Minnesota, though.  Too cold.  Always.)

After our conversation, curiosity led me to the listserv.  One guy started things off by asking about a virtual library being planned:

I need to track down some information.

Some time ago there was some writing and discussion in web4lib about a college or university that was planned or built without a physical library, it was supposed to be fully electronic. I have been trying to track down if this was just
1) rumours of being planned or
2) actually planned or
3) actually built.
and, if any of these, where?

A few folks responded, including a librarian from the Rochester Public Library, which is two blocks from here and an invaluable resource.  She informed the group of our existence, and then was kind enough to elaborate after one guy asked, “If they don’t have a physical library, where do they keep their books?”  (Kind of missing the point, hon.)

Susan replied,

People have asked me where the U of MN Rochester, which opened in 2008, keeps their books. [Really?  I had no idea people were asking!  MB]  They do not have a library in their new facility and at this point I don’t believe they intend to add a library.

This has info on their “information commons” – as you can see from the photo – computers only. UMR students have access to all of the University of Minnesota Libraries’ online resources for their academic programs, including the catalog, periodical indexes and full text articles. Books and other printed materials may be obtained from the University of Minnesota Libraries through document delivery or interlibrary loan. Students should contact the Information Commons staff to assist them with their requests.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.  (Thanks, Susan!)

The thread ended with the original author informing the group that after the research, he found only two virtual libraries: ours and the Kingsport Center for Higher Education, which is under construction and isn’t planning a library.

I was floored.  I knew that our library model was a bit new, but I had no idea it was that revolutionary.

I may have to think about how to document all that has been happening as we create our new campus and its associated library.  In the meantime, I’ll start posting a bit more on how this all works.  (Frankly, I didn’t think it was that big a deal.  Who knew?)  For those of you who are interested in this whole thing, feel free to contact me.  I’ll be glad to chat!


Filed under Libraries and Librarianship, Me and mine

A Mob of Librarians

The Library Thing cataloging flash mob was apparently a rousing success.

Turnout was much more than we expected–twenty people! With so many hands–and despite some wifi problems–we got an enormous amount done. By lunch time we were flying, and after powering through the actual job, the 1,363 items in the church library (member StJohnsBeverlyFarms), we went ahead and tackled the rector’s 734 books too (member: TadsLibrary). I have a mind to go back and start in on all the parishioners’ libraries, particularly that of a local author of some renown.

I think this is a terrific idea.  And Tim has an idea for another major event:

So, let’s do it again! Why not do it somewhere else? New York? California? We could time it with a big book show or a library conference.  Just imagine, 500 librarians from the ALA show descending upon every church, synagogue, house museum and lean-to library in Denver. Jeremy is also very open to blending flash-mob cataloging with the Legacy Library project, by collecting to do a house museum or an important collection in a historical society.

Not only would that be a great time, think of the press such an event would garner!

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Filed under Libraries and Librarianship

Thank you.

On this Veteran’s Day, please thank a veteran for your freedom.

Gettysburg battlefield

Gettysburg battlefield

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Filed under Me and mine


I just got an email from the presidential candidate I support.  Well, from his campaign.  He encourages me to vote tomorrow, and asks for my vote.

Nothing new, really.

What is interesting is that the email included my address, the address of my polling place, an estimate of how long it will take me to get there, and driving directions.

I think that’s cool.  I knew where to go to vote, but if I didn’t, this email would have been incredibly helpful.  Good job, Campaign People.


Filed under Me and mine

Beneficial Mobs

This is a terrific idea, and I wish I lived closer to Boston so that I could participate: the folks at Library Thing are calling for a Cataloging Flash Mob for a local Episcopal Church.

We’re having a “flash-mob” cataloging party November 15th, Saturday, in Beverly, MA (just north of Boston). We’ll descend on St. John’s Episcopal Church, catalog their 1,200-odd books, eat some pizza, talk some talk and leave them with a gleaming new LibraryThing catalog. Books, bibliophiles, conversation, barcode scanners, pizza! (Not to mention Mike, Sonya, Tim, maybe Abby, with a slight chance of Liam.)

Why: Quite a few small libraries use LibraryThing as their catalog—schools, churches, synagogues, Masonic temples, companies, museums, and even a couple of embassies! They find LibraryThing much cheaper and easier to use than most “library automation” software. (More about organizations using LibraryThing here.)

What a fabulous idea!  For those of you living near Boston, join in the fun!

For those of us not living in the area, are there organizations in your neck of the woods that could benefit from something like this?


Filed under Customer Service, Libraries and Librarianship