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The library is a proving ground for the First Amendment. There, people are not safe from ideas or from the responsibility to decide what ideas to pursue.
-- Susan Fuller

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¤ 29apr02
Hi. You'll notice this funny doodad symbol before the date [¤]. Clicking on it will give you a permalink URL for that day's entry. I can't really think why you might want to link to a specific day, but people seem to be doing it so I may as well give you the tools to do it correctly. My apologies if this breaks everything.
I'm so far not really impressed with the quality of answers on Google Answers. A lot of them either seem to hype products to answer questions, give one answer to complicated questions, or just miss the point. Granted, some of the questions suck terribly as well. But what do you expect? "researchers" have one hour between the time they claim a question and the time it needs to be answered. This leaves precious little room for calling or emailing other folks who might be able to help, and forget reference interviews. The interface -- see 25 questions, hit next for the next 25 -- is clunky already, what will it look like with 1,000 questions in the queue? My biggest issue though is the way anyone with a login has the same -ga appended to their handle [I am jessamyn-ga for example]. I would strongly urge a differentiation between researchers and question askers, even if it's just notation. And allowing comments at the same time as answers is like letting other people in line at the reference desk also answer your patron's questions. My prediction is that people bid low on questions and just scan their comments [for free] for answers, or hints of answers. I should be getting the OK to start in answering questions this week, I'll let you know how it goes.
Geneaology tip of the day: Never Re-shelve Books in the Library. I have a secret confession, I reshelve books in the library. [ thanks jen ]
What does intellectual property mean to you? essay winners announced.
Thanks to IP law, my family (which lives several states away) has never heard my choir perform. [ thanks denise ]
The British Library contemplates a digital archive.
The principle behind our great libraries has been that the public should have free access to information. But in a world of encryption, commercially sensitive information, pay-as-you-view websites, copy protection technology and so on, the transmission and distribution of recorded knowledge, which has been their remit, is becoming severely restricted. [ thanks owen ]
Amusing anectode about librarians saving the day for a phone interview with Ray Bradbury. Not by asking questions or finding answers but by using the reverse phone directory to call his neighbors get him to hang up the phone. [ thanks julz ]
I rarely publish links to book reviews, but this article is more than just a review. A new book, Harmful to Minors, posits that sex is not necessarily harmful to minors, but backwards attitudes about it can be. Reactions have been predictable. [ thanks steve ]
¤ 26apr02
Hi. I would like to be an honorary member of ALA for life, now. Can you guys pull some strings or something? Granted I am not a TV personality, the founder of Microsoft [did Melinda Gates also found Microsoft? I had no idea!] or have the nebulous job title of "benefactor" but I think I could at least mention ALA every week of my adult life, which I am sure is more than, say, Herbert Hoover ever did. Damned Colin Powell will probably get it anyhow.
Ursula le Guin against shelving books by genre, and genres in general
As long as critics and the academy use realism as a single standard for the vast diversity of fictional modes, teachers will remain contemptuous of what most people read, ignorant of the particular beauties and devices of each genre, and incompetent to judge most fiction. And libraries, by perpetuating shelving by genre, will perpetuate the bizarre and arbitrary limitation of literary fiction to one modern genre. [ thanks rcb ]
Bibliotheca Alexandrina opened to the public this week quietly in order not to fan the flames of Israeli-Palestinian tensions. Is it me, or is saying that your library "can" hold 8 million books sort of a disingenuous way of saying it is presently holding less than that? [ thanks john & belva ]
"It's one thing to ambush superlative girl... but now you're taking on the librarian." [ thanks john ]
Google Answers service launches [in beta] for people who somehow missed the fact that the public library does this sort of work for free. Or, lets be fair, come from an area where their public library sucks or where they do not have a public library. I have mixed feelings about the whole deal. People should learn that being able to find answers to questions well is a skill that involves talent and training. They should also appreciate that the public library sytem, in the US anyhow, is trying to serve this need, and on a shoestring no less.The tragedy of the commons means that at some level, people who use the public librarian's services more, for long complicated questions, or to get them to do their jobs for them, are actually reducing the amount of time the public librarian has for the rest of the public. Drawing the line can be tricky and involve unpleasant value judgements. I'm still unsure how I feel about it all.
You are getting ripped off! You can get ALL of this information and MORE at your public library. How much does it cost? IT'S FREE!
¤ 25apr02
Hi. Please do me [and Katia] one small favor? Go to this link and complete Dean and Michelle's five question survey so they can finish up their article and stop me from biting my nails. Thank you.
¤ 24apr02
Hi. I'm back from Chicago and Milwaukee. Thanks to Underground Librarian Nikki Waller, I got to go on a whirlwind tour of ALA and meet a lot of people who I'd only known over email [or by reputation]. As with all institutions that are big and wide-reaching, the people behind them are often much nicer, more personable and more thoughtful than the final face of the institution they represent. A few folks even said "it's really great what you're doing" even though I regularly have some snarky things to say about ALA. I even got to see a pre-printing copy of my article which will be coming out in the May issue of American Libraries. There's no point to any of this, more of a full-disclosure thing really, in case I start going all soft on ALA....
Happy Birthday Library of Congress.
On April 24, 1800, President John Adams approved the appropriation of $5,000 for the purchase of "such books as may be necessary for the use of congress." [ thanks dsdlc ]
Maybe a not so happy birthday.....
Library of Congress officials, who have spent several years defending themselves against accusations of discriminatory hiring practices, now face a new investigation into allegations of misappropriating funds and violating federal standards in the library’s contracting process. [ thanks dsdlc ]
First prize for worst non-sequitur use of "Shhh" in a library headline. [ thanks bill ]
Breaking the styereotype and fundrasing at the same time.
Nearly 20 librarians donned leather and denim outfits ... and mounted motorcycles. The pictures will be turned into a 2003 calendar, and the proceeds will be funneled into the campaign. Irene Baranowksi, a 71-year-old page, thought her co-workers were joking about the photo shoot but agreed to pose - just to go along with the gag. But when she found out they weren't kidding she kept her word, which meant dressing in a leather cap, dark shades and heavy demin pants and hopping on a white Harley. It shatters the image of an old lady with a bun behind her head standing behind a reference desk, she said. [ thanks chris ]
¤ 20apr02
Hi. I'm heading to Chicago today. The pictures from my MPL whirlwind tour are here.
Hi. Happy Special Librarians Day, a subsidiary of National Library Week. Greg and I actually managed to visit, enter, and enjoy all 13 libraries within the Milwaukee city limits in the MPL system. Pictures forthcoming.
Nored without comment:
The girl wears a librarian’s party outfit: brown cardigan, cream-colored blouse, crimson skirt, knee-high gray socks, and pink Reeboks. She carries an obviously dead and quickly browning pink rose in her hands. [ thanks lisa ]
Young adults are our future taxpayers, better get them loving the library early. [ thanks dawn ]
Authors Guild versus in the used book sale fracas. A few authors chime in as well. [ thanks rcb ]
More on your right to make money as an author... publisher test drives a Free Library, a money losing proposition, or not?
Does anyone have any real evidence that having material available for free online-whether legitimately or through piracy-has actually caused any financial harm to any author? I am about to cast it into question again. Here are a number of facts which you should consider.... [ thanks dave ]
¤ 16apr02
Hi. I'm in Milwaukee. Tomorrow Greg and I are tentatively planning to visit all ten or so of Milwaukee Public Library's branch libraries.Wish me luck.
When Katia says it's the best page about a card catalog ever, you had better believe her.
At least they're reading....
in Duluth, a 42-year-old reprint [to Kill a Mockingbird] is outselling new releases by John Grisham and Stephen King. [ thanks dave ]
Meanwhile, what should Iowa read? Iowa is the 46th state to join the Center for the Book.What's holding up Delaware, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and South Dakota? [ thanks rebecca ]
Judge shows remarkable lack of understanding about the plight of the semi-homeless as the woman jailed for overdue books saga continues.
You're obligated when you move to give a forwarding address. If you keep moving from location to location, without giving a forwarding address, what would our world be? [ thanks taylor ]
An "unambiguously modern" new look for the New York Botanical Garden's library.
The library maintains 75 percent of the world's literature on systematic botany and 70 percent of the world's published floras. It also houses the institution's rare botanic art collection of paintings and illustrations.[ NYT, thanks steve ]
Some stats on the New Librarians. More important than ever because as the economy goes down, library use unsurprisingly goes up. A little sigh of sympathy to the drones who had to administer this survey.
In a national telephone survey of 1,000 adults conducted last month for the library association, 91% said they think that libraries are "changing and dynamic places," and 81% agreed that librarians are "techno-savvy and on the forefront of the Information Age" [ thanks jeremy ]
Catalog this, some anecdotes about realia in libraries.
A lot of libraries aren't equipped to deal with rotting fabrics, let alone body parts. And, you know, storage boxes just come in squares and rectangles. [ NYT, thanks katia ]
¤ 13apr02
Hi. A big thanks to Bill for the good advice and translation skills.
Words from Laura Bush for National Library Week
And now, for the moment baseball fans have been waiting for -- I'm pleased to introduce Mike Bordick -- Mike, of course, is an All-Star shortstop for the Baltimore Orioles...
By which I mean that product placement is getting totally out of hand.
"Baseball's current economic system has created a caste system in which only high revenue and high payroll clubs have a realistic opportunity to reach the post-season,"
Noted without comment
As with any truly interesting work of art, there are a million ways to read "The Piano Teacher." Hardcore old-wave feminists (if there are any left) will probably hate this film: It's almost like librarian porn, where the smart, reserved woman turns out to be a wild sex beast. And at the end of the day, she really just wants to be tied up and humiliated. [ thanks eli ]
Who reads what? And by "who" I mean celebrities. Someone picks A Brief History of Time every year. This what I read. [ newbreed ]
The first rule of book club.... more humor in the everyone-reads-the-same-book vein.
So I have a little advice for New Yorkers and I hope they listen because it’s critically important: In order for a city-wide reading group to work, you must choose a book that everyone’s already read. It also helps if the book has been made into a movie, so the local film critics, art theaters, and better-looking singles can get in on the action. [ roguelibrarian ]
But why do you think Oprah's Book Club failed?
One answer, of course, is that Oprah was selecting a very special kind of fiction.... the club's principal mission has been to champion recovery, loudly and often. Bad things happen, women suffer, and one day, further along, once you undertake that perilous journey from bitterness to forgiveness, you will be vouchsafed the reason for your tenure on earth. Small wonder that Oprah should find these works of didactic uplift to be of finite interest, if not, strictly speaking, in limited supply
The importance of Sandy Berman, in action. [ thanks steve ]
If you send your patrons to jail for overdue fines, you risk violating their confidentiality. How embarassing to be locked up for not returning Star Trek. [ thanks kteela ]
Library Cats Map has been updated and expanded. [ thanks dave & mom ]
¤ 11apr02
What's weird about the Wired piece is that they called me an "ex-librarian" as if that's really germane to what I do. What I am doing now is working on Revolting Librarians Redux. If there's any lawyers in the audience who would like to give me some advice on a contract [yes, a contract!] I'm all ears.
History of Libraries conference starts today. Sponsored by The Library Company who has interesting, though unattractive, online exhibits about books.
Oh yes, and it's National Library Week next week. Relentless hypemachine ALA would like to remind you just how much you can sink your dollars into reading opportunities thinly masking corporate sponsorships and marketing opportunities. I recommend you just go to your local library, say hi to your local librarian, and read a nice book.
A new Put It in Writing @ your library program with Woman's Day Magazine will kick off during National Library Week. A grand slam 21st century literacy initiative with Major League Baseball also starts this spring, with promotional materials available beginning National Library Week from ALA Graphics.
There are many fine reasons to despise, but the fact that they sell used books online seems to be pretty low down on the list. [ thanks bill ]
Thank you CIPA for bringing the word "pornmeisters" into our vocabulary. [ thanks benjamin ]
Tattered Cover bookstore, off the hook!
The Supreme Court recognizes that both the United States and Colorado Constitutions protect the rights of the general public to purchase books anonymously, without governmental interference. As such, any law enforcement attempt to use a search warrant to discover which books that a customer has purchased from a bookstore implicates fundamental rights. [ thanks sarah ]
Thesis barred from library for snarky acknowledgements
To the entire management of the Davidson Library, Your strict adherence to self-serving draconian policy has made it a supreme displeasure to work in your vicinity. Incomprehensible fines, unwillingness to help and general poor attitude has made most library visits an ogre. I trust your incompetence will preside over the continued decline in library quality.
¤ 08apr02
Hello Wired readers. I haven't yet read the article/sidebar, but I hear they called me "hip". What's wierder is that I was once mentioned in Wired five years ago, almost to the day.
Oprah can't find enough good books, ends book club. Do you think publishers are really sad because people are reading less, or just buying less?[ NYT, thanks john ]
The news sent book publishers into mourning, as her announcement ends one of the biggest boons to reading and book sales since the rise of the Book of the Month Club 75 years ago.
A little note against National Poetry Month.
Oscar Wilde once wrote, "Only an auctioneer admires all schools of art." National Poetry month professes to an undifferentiated promotion for "all" poetry, as if supporting all poetry, any more than supporting all politics, you could support any. [ thanks juice ]
¤ 06apr02
Hi. April is National Poetry Month and [maybe] National Card and Letter Writing Month. Send a pal a postcard poem today.... Also, for some reason the NYT login stopped working. There is a new one on the left.
Remember the library cat who attacked that dog? Well the owner of the dog is now classifying the attack as a hate crime. I have decided the man must be mentally ill and am depressed by this whole incident.
Q&A in the LA Times about library filtering and CIPA. [ thanks dawn ]
This law doesn't really protect kids. If they tried to pass a law that had to restrict access for just children, they might have succeeded. Of course, we will always try to protect children. If they insist on going to places [on the Internet] that are unacceptable, then we turn to their parents. We're not always going to be successful, to be honest. But we try our best. This law, though, is about restricting access for everyone, including adults. That's what we disagree with.
Looks like that lawsuit isn't going so well anyhow.... [ thanks elisabeth ]
Happy Grand Re-Opening, Berkeley Public Library. [ thanks john ]
Book fungus can get you high. We all knew that, right? [ thanks janet ]
If you're young, black and poor, a library offers hope. A smart commentary in favor of continuing siupport for hawai'i's libraries
The threat today, of curtailing Hawai'i's public library services or even closing some community libraries, is a sure way to stand in the way of our people having access to books and other information and developing their fullest potential. The state of Hawai'i must find a way to keep all our libraries open for all people, regardless of socio-economic status. [ thanks brandon ]
¤ 03apr02
Hi. I spared you the April Fools Day joketorture. Happy? My picture will be in Wired next month in some teeny sidebar about some blogger I don't even know. I'm not sure what the deal is but please look for my picture, it's sort of exciting. I'm doing a little link cleaning so these may be old or redundant links today, please persevere.
Publishers Weekly bestsellers 1900-1999
2000 year old library awaiting excavation.
Eight of the world's leading scholars of ancient literature, including four professors of Greek ... have launched a campaign to recover what they believe the villa may still contain: one of the greatest cultural treasures of all time. Unless work starts soon, they warn, it could be lost forever. [ thanks mark & steve ]
Has anyone but me ever read The Librarian and the Robbers? I think it was an early library influence. Excellent illustrations by Quentin Blake.
Question: Why did the [librarians] look strange?
Answer: An image of librarians is that they are quiet, tidy and orderly, not wild with 'wiry whiskers'. This is a stereotype, an idea that does not tell us all there is to know about somebody, which can prevent some people feeling at ease in libraries
Jude's heartbreaking book destroying story.
Monkeys shred, not shelve, books. [ thanks dawn ]
Ferreting out evil - the records of the Committee on Evil Literature [ thanks tim ]
Pop Update does a quickie review of Teoma, the search engine that supposedly has "authority control"
"...people were masturbating to books in the stacks before the Internet existed" [ NYT, thanks lorie ]

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