GregS*'s blog

rookie mistakes

So I've spent a few months working on new expanding menus for our library's website. Then I've spent another few months adding all the new pages that are going along with the update. Children's thought this was a good oppurtunity to completely redo their pages from scratch so I've been helping them with that. We're 99% done and everything's going up on Monday and it dawns on me as I'm looking through the pages that none of the new Children's pages including their main page have any reference to the name of the library, town, address, phone, nothing. Plus there are no links back to the library's main page. *Doh*

Priorities

posted from
SHUSH
:

     Albert Einstein: "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not
simpler"

     An annoying post over at Shifted Librarian. It deals with
Library 2.0 which I don't believe I've talked about yet. Possibly because there's
nothing to talk about. Its not really anything but a collection of various opinions
about what Library 2.0 should mean. Walt Crawford put together many of these
opinions in an issue of Cites & Insights. Anyway, the fact is its not really
anything but apparently that's not going to stop ALA from doing a class on it. The
class will involve Web 2.0 which is an equally undefined term.

     I said its about nothing but that's not true. Its about
change. Big whoop. When libraryland thinks of change it thinks about new venues to
get information out. Both with and without technology we are looking for new
ways to get patrons in the library. The problem is we're like a bad date that just
won't shut up. We push our resources at people but we don't get out of their way long
enough for them to make any real use of it. From a public library standpoint our
primary product is made of 3 physical items, books, movies, music. We allow people to
use those items individually but we do next to nothing to help them make use of the
library as a collection, as their own personal library.

     Amazon made books cool by making a searchable library with
pretty graphics and honest reader reviews. We're catching up with the graphics and
friendly catalogs but we're not there yet and we're light years behind Netflix. I
don't pretend to know how its done but I know I can log in and rate movies I've seen
which in turn affects how movies are recommended to me. I can see a list of movies
I've already gotten through them (if only I could add others I've seen but not rented
from them for a more complete list.) And I have a queue list. We all have
stacks of books in our house waiting to be read (some probably never will be). Why
shouldn't I have one on my library profile? Not a holds list, a
'to-be-read-but-not-yet' list. And a list of what I've read to see where I've been?
Plus a checklist of favorite authors so that I automatically get contacted when they
have new books out? Now
Ebsco's
Novelist
has something like that last one but its not nearly as user friendly as
it should be.

     This is simple stuff, seriously. There are bits and pieces
of this in both Netflix and Amazon and probably dozens of other web-based companies.
The only reason we don't have it, haven't had it, haven't worked on getting it since
computers were invented is because too many of our profession wear tinfoil hats to
block the government spying on their thoughts. Amazon knows my tastes better than my
library, that's what good the tinfoil hats have done. Library 1.0 teaches that 'every
reader, his book'. Well, his book depends significantly on his last book, his last
10, his last 100.

     We can talk about change all we want but until we get past
our profession's paranoia over privacy the only change we're going to see is Library
2.0... 2.01... 3.0... 3.1 ServicePack 2...

     In a profession that's thousands of years old that kind of
change isn't healthy.

birdie's blog

Amazing. Birdie goes on a tirade, her own little flamewar about Bush's foreign policy skills, I say she's hating and offer an article showing she's off-base.

Fang (Nellis) says I'm the one who's a hater and that I've gone off on Clinton, Kerry, McCain(?), and the families of victims of 9/11 who are against the war in Iraq.

I said he was a liar and scum (and still say it). Someone marks me as flamebait but of course gives Nellis a pass. To that person I said, and still say 'fuck off'.

Birdie deletes the post because she thinks Nellis and I are in our own little personal playground.

Well birdie, you need to take responsibility for arguements you start and try a little less equivocation. That someone would accuse me of hating 9/11 families is disgusting, trust me, I was not and am not 'playing'. Anybody who wants to accuse me of something like that without offering proof better hope we never meet in person.

Library TV

Billerica Public Library has, for over 8 years now, produced a monthly program for local cable broadcast called "Library Lowdown". It started out as 30 minutes of discussing a selection of books on a couple specifics topics along with the upcoming library events. To that has been added a segment on websites and a 'shoptalk' segment reviewing a single book.

Now, thanks to digital video, for the first time "Library Lowdown" can be downloaded from the web. (Actually you will be able to stream future episodes, my test run was streamable, but I must have overlooked something when doing the full episode.)

Check it out here.

What I Did On Saturday

Well, I'm still doing it but its after 3, I'm on reference til we close, and its snowing outside. That means the milk cooler and bread aisle at the local grocer will see more business then I will...

Left for work a little after 8. Fridays and Saturdays I usually treat myself to a McDonalds steak, egg, and cheese bagel sandwich and a medium black coffee... mmmmm

Started going through email at 9. Note on my desk from the boss saying she nominated me for the board of the local cable station. She had talked to me about it Thursday and I said I do it. She's currently president and the assistant director is treasurer though she plans on getting done soon. Finished email and the staff person on the reference desk came and got me saying a computer's CD drive wouldn't stay closed. You'd push it in and 2 seconds later it would pop back open. I tried a number of different things, rebooting, uninstalling, then did a web search and word was that the drive was going and needed to be replaced. Spent some time on the phone with Dell, mostly on hold, and they are sending me a drive asap. They didn't even ask me to try anything so they must have run into this already.

I was on reference desk from 11-1. It was steady, even included some actual reference questions that required actual books. One kid who was using the internet came and got me because it had locked up. It hadn't really, the screen was all white but I could move the mouse and ctrl-alt-delete. I can't logoff our computers without shutting off a timer we use so I just rebooted it. He came back 10 minutes later to say it happend again, I said 'same site'? Yup. This time I could move the mouse to the top edge and shrink the white screen. There was a myplace.com screen behind of someone's profile. I don't know if its something malicious or what. But anyway I could turn off the timer this time and just logoff which closed all the windows. Meanwhile he had gone to another station and done the same thing. I didn't call him an idiot but I thought it real hard.

Other then that I spent desktime organizing my systems binder which has profile sheets of all the computers. I also grabbed a book of the shelf I had read about in an article. Its called Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House. Housekeeping is not my strong suit so I checked it out to myself. I flipped through a little and in a section on ventilation it said its best to keep your house around 65. When its 25 outside, 65 is mighty chilly.

Lunch at 1. I had a hot pocket and some leftover homefries from the Children's 'Green Eggs and Ham' program that morning. I just couldn't eat the green eggs. I also spent the time making out my grocery list. I eat the same thing Mon-Thurs but tomorrow I'm having Rachel Ray's chicken sausage with peppers and onions subs.

Now that the Children's program was over it was safe to go down and finish that second computer. The other two will hopefully get done next week but I have some 2nd floor stations that aren't working and I keep pushing off. Ordered a hub and USB Floppy Drive from CDWG.

Right now there are 2 stations being used out of 16 and that's probably how it will stay until we close. After that my day is like every Saturday I work. I have to get gas and head over to the comic shop for my weekly stash, this is what should be waiting for me:

Batman #650
Green Lantern #9
JLA Classified #17
Legion Of Super-Heroes #15
Solo #9
Supergirl #5
Teen Titans Go #28
Warlord #1
Amazing Spider-Man #529
Captain America #15
Thing #4
Spellgame #3

Then its off to get groceries. I should be home by 7:30ish. Teen Titans Go is in repeats on Cartoon Netowork but Justice League Unlimited is new (yes!) but not on until 10:30 (ugh). I have to work on a SHUSH post concerning PABBIS (checkout Sushi!) and I have a Netflix DVD of Battle Of The Planets.

The ENd

What I Did On Thursday

You know I reread Blake's post yesterday, the one that started this 'what I did' and I think I read it wrong the first time. I think he was just looking for a day, not a week... doh...

Today... hmmm

I didn't have desk time til 1. So I checked my email and some other sites then went down to Children's and finished setting up one of the new computers. We use NetNanny as a filter on them and its gotten much easier since they created the Anybody account. Before you had to login whenever the computer was booted in order to surf the net, now its just automatic. I loaded Adobe and Flash last time, now I did Norton Anti-Virus, Quicktime, Word, and Deep Freeze but not before putting in my regedits to lock the Control Panel and Network Neighborhood and some other asthetic stuff.

Back at the office I had a new museum to enter into the pass system, the Roger Williams Park Zoo which is actually in Rhode Island. People were asking for it and the price was reasonable so the Friends went for it. You put in all the discount details and how long you're subscribed for and what holidays they are closed so it doesn't get booked. Its a neat system, you can see what the patrons do here.

Lunch, tomato soup and hot pocket. Luckily I'm off tomorrow and will eat junk food.

Reference desk for 2 hours, its quiet and I work on putting my screenshots together for Library Lowdown which we film Monday. There's no internet at the cable station so I take 'pictures' of websites the Director and Assistant Director talk about to show on the screen. Then I have closing credit shots I make with Powerpoint listing all the books and websites talked about. It gives me an excuse to play around with Powerpoint which is a great tool for doodling. I can only focus for so long so I spend some time jumping into LISNews and other places while I'm working on the shots.

Back at the office the Director informed me there was somehting wrong with some of the webpages, they had ?'s all through them. It was the policy pages and I had just cut and pasted from Word documents into the Frontpage documents which wasn't a problem when they were on a Microsoft server. But since the site got moved to a Unix server (I'm pretty sure its Unix or some cousin of), all the fancy Microsoft "s and 's became ? Yeah I don't really get it either though you can see the difference when you're looking at them. Unfancy quotes are straight like this: II ... II , fancy are directional like this: PP... dd. Yeah I don't care either but I got to waste some time plucking out ?'s and replacing them with unfancy quotes. Exciting.

I went back down to Children's to finish the second computer. They were having a petting zoo program in the meeting room, full grown Llama and several other furry critters. Whole department smelled like hay and livestock, and was full of kids waiting for their turn to go in and pet away (15 min intervals). I lasted 30 minutes and headed back up.

Installed Quicktime on my own computer so I could watch the MPEG4s, notarized a document for somebody, argued about national health insurance with coworkers. Called it a day and went out to dinner with a friend.

Not an overly productive day but at least it ended well.

What I Did On Wednesday

Staff Meeting 8am. Ouch. I got there on the nose and didn't grab a cup of coffee which bummed out the whole day. The Director handed out the new 5 year plan for people to look at. I had to talk about some computer changes upstairs. We're trying to use the stations more effectively so we're changing some to 30 min. time limits and not allowing games or chat at all on those and being more lenient on the others. Plus we're adding Word 2003 to the others. We're also going to do sign-up for the teen stations on the first floor. They're getting taken over by groups and we want to open them up to more teens. I have reservations about sign-ups but I was voted down already on that. Also gave a heads up on a website overhaul I've been working on. We're updating the menus and adding some pages. I've been on it since the Fall, learning about collasping menus. I blogged about it here. Anyway the menus go up in a month (hopefully) so if staff want to critique now is the time. There was some general discussion about other library issues I can't really get into here and everyone gave their 'what's new' spiel. Overall pretty productive.( Oh yeah, the Director also announced the date of the annual Spring Fling, a fundraiser that will be in May. Usually its swank black tie but to jazz up interest they are going outside and doing BBQ. There's usually a theme drink so I spent some Ref desk time looking for cowboy drinks. That was fun.)

I was on the Reference Desk first. We do two hour blocks. Usually we do one block a day, sometimes two, especially on Friday or Saturday because of the split staff. Museum passes were still the top question of the day. I spent some time checking email and the regular sites. I like to check in at captaincomics.us occasionally, its a guilty pleasure that I justify as 'staying on top of the graphic novel industry'. I also spent some time checking out www.archive.org. That thing has grown since the last time I looked at it. Daniel mentioned it to me last week concerning the teen video project. I had planned on hosting clips of our monthly show on our website but if I do that then streaming wouldn't be an option, you'd have to download the whole clip before you could watch it. I poked around archive.org and it seems like an ideal place to host the clips though I feel funny about doing it. I'll definitly have to send them a donation.

After my desk time I spent an hour down in Children's. They're doing the Children's pages upgrade but I've been helping/pushing them to get done sooner. They can do basic updates but when it starts getting complicated they prefer a little help. Which is fine, I scrounge the internet for help all the time with the website. One advantage for the update they have is a giant mural that was painted when the building was built about 6 years ago. They're using the mural as their theme and the pics from it are going to look nice on the site.

Lunch at noon, soup and a pocket and leftover coffee and pastries from the staff meeting. Plus on Wednesdays me and a part-timer play cribbage during lunch hour.

After lunch I made up some small signs for the computers concerning the changes coming (March 1st). I like to laminate them because people seem less likely to rip them off or write on them for some reason. I did some more website updating and playing with the menus to match with what I had talked about with Children's in the morning. After over an hour of that the coffee from lunch wasn't doing its job so I went and shelfread for a while.

I was going to be on Reader's Advisory on the First Floor for an hour at 4 so at 3:30 I went down and talked with the Director who was there. I had talked to her about "Library Lowdown" being on the website and now explained to her about archive.org and the advantages of it. It feels different having some else host it as opposed to the library consortium so I wanted to make sure she and the assistant director (who are both in it) were comfortable with it. They're both cool that way so it wasn't a problem. I also went over the new stats function we have with our website. She had been pushing me to get that done for a while now. (I didn't actually do it, the consortium moved our site onto a new server that had stat software on it and we reaped the benefits.)

I was on RA from 4 to 5. Not many questions, its vacation week. The tax form display is right behind the RA Desk. (I think I'm in charge of it because I'm the lone guy on staff and I get the pleasure of moving the boxes around.) We were down on the instruction booklets so I restocked. I need to call for more forms though, we're running low.

I leave after 5, go home eat several salad wraps with some roast cuts I cooked on Monday and Koop's 'Arizona Heat' mustard (new discovery! that stuff is awesome!). I watch an episode of 30 Minute Meals and Good Eats (Lost is a repeat tonigt :( ). Then I'm here in the den setting up an account on archive.org and uploading the test clips I had. You can check it out here.

And now I'm writing this which feels like the most laborous thing I've done today.

What I Did Tuesday

I knew I should have typed this as the day went...

Got in at 8:30, made coffee to get ready for the day

Checked mail, LISNews, and other sites just to see what was going on

Had to help a patron who was trying to download to a disk. Images 1.66MB aren't going to fit on a floppy. I formatted a CD for him but Hotmail still wasn't letting him download it just automatically opened the disk and I had too many security settings to use my normal workarounds. Still not sure what happened there...

Went down to Children's and unboxed 2 new computers and moved the 2 old ones upstairs for a pet project. (I replace 20% of our computers each year and do half of that in the Spring and the other in the Fall, got a good buy so Spring is early). I have 4 in Children's to do and I should have came in yesterday and taken comp time but was lazy instead. Setting up new computers in jeans and t-shirt: fun. Doing it in a shirt and tie: not fun Shirt, tie and an active Children's Room: hell. I didn't want to get into booting the new ones just yet so headed upstairs.

Librarian at Ref desk mentions something about our Museum/Calendar program blinking out. I have a phone message from the guy we contract with for our Museum/Calendar program saying the person he contracts with for hosting changed servers and computers might not be seeing the new server yet. Luckily the Ref Desk is so we can function(more on that later). I send an email to staff explaining the situation and post a message on our site for patrons. Everything should be normal tomorrow. Heh.

I ordered MS Word 2003 last week for some of our public stations. The CD came in but no license code. I played a little phone tag with the vendor and they said I now have to call Microsoft to get the codes and they only email a code number to give to MS so I can get the license code. So I got to walk though Microsoft's new phone system for this bit of nonsense and then sit on hold for a bit until I finally got my number. Those bastards!

I typed up a note for teen video project that I wanted to send to someone, printed out profile sheets for the new computers and dug out the profiles for the old ones for the IP numbers. Went to lunch. Tomato soup and cheeseburger Hot Pocket. (Not to shabby but starving by day's end.)

A scheduling swap meant I had an hour after lunch before desk time so I combed through my desk some. I should confess I lost the war to the paper tiger a long time ago. Once in a while I stage a huge comeback but it never lasts for more than a week or two. Anyway, I put together some reviews I had to go through for the desk and did some overdue filing. I also booked the edit room at the cable station for after work so I could download the files I left there from Saturday.

I went through the reviews at the desk. Its school vacation week so it was quiet sorta. Lots of museum pass questions. (Our Friends by annual passes to a variety of museums in and around Boston to check out to patrons). Thing is you can book the pass up to 60 days in advance so unless the patron was there to pick up a pass they had already booked I didn't have much good news for the jonny-come-lately's. Oh well, their eyes usually light up when I say they can book passes online from home. Vacation or not there were still the teen Runescape junkies to deal with. If I let them they'd spend the entire day right in that one spot. But once I'm proof-postive they've been there over an hour and I start to see patrons looking for workstations then I shoo them off for 15 minute intervals. If a station is free they can get back on but at least it gives possible newcomers a chance. The only questions that competed with the museum passes were "how do I print?". Oh well.

I had an hour til the day was over so I went down and started up the computers. I'll admit its fun booting a fresh clean computer but its daunting sometimes. As soon as I go through the first walk through and see Google I get annoyed. I was feeling a little friendlier to them after their defense against the China-Evil accusations but the jerks have a Google-Desktop bundled in with the Windows XP Pro plus the Google toolbar automatically coming up in the IE browser. Now to me, in computerland that is the definition of evil. Don't start stuff up I don't want, don't get in my way. If I want you I'll find you, otherwise be gone. Ugh. To top it off Dell completely changed their BIOS setup and it wasn't an improvement. It probably was to whoever knew what the extras were but all I want to do is password the BIOS so no one locks me out, make sure its only booting to the C drive and blank out the F2/F12 instructions so nobody gets any ideas. Keep it simple. Anyway, computer booted, BIOS fixed, admin profile edited, Adobe and Flash installed. It still needs the security, filters, and a couple extra programs installed which I'll work on later.

It was 10 to 5 and I had all the screaming kids I could handle. I checked email again and scanned some sites and headed out to pick up my files at the cable station.

I said on my Saturday post that nothing ever happened when we took ref stats. Jinx. Not that today was hard, just scattershot. I hate scattershot.

"Let's Teach To The Test"

A must read from the Wash. Post.

What I Did Saturday

4 times a year we take reference statistics for a week. Nothing ever happens on those weeks but the week after we get slammed. Go figure. So I thought I'd throw in Saturday for good measure because its unusual.

It was my day off but I had scheduled some editing time at the local cable station. Before I left I got a call from the Children's Department. They show movies using a laptop and projector and the movie wasn't opening. I gave them some tips and left it at that. The cable station is across the street from the library so I figured I'd stop in on the way, luckily light dawned on the way over and I knew what the problem was. Went in and fixed it and then headed across the street.

I was at the cable station for 3 hours. I had to clean up a small project that I had been putting off for a while and finally submitted for airtime. Its only a 7 1/2 minute program for teens about using the library. Think of it as a pilot episode and the quality that implies. I also wanted to tinker with the intro to the monthly program, Libray Lowdown. The station uses software called LiveType which sometimes comes with Final Cut Pro. Its pretty impressive and I know maybe a fraction of what it can do. And then the main reason I scheduled the time was to play with the Quicktime features of being able to export clips into a much smaller web-friendly files. I made a number of test files of different sizes, plus a few audio-only ones (for possible podcasting). Unfortunetly I forgot my memory stick so I'll have to go back next week and grab the files.

Why go in on a day off? Because I can't justify to myself the time spent on pie-in-the-sky projects that look pretty but may not payoff in terms of promoting the library or making the library more user friendly. Especially when there's a significant learning curve for someone like myself who has to jump in with both feet and suffer the consequences of that while I get my bearing.

Today's Funny

Comes from Rob Long over at National Review concerning the cartoon flap. Its only a partial article, the rest is in the print edition which looks worth checking out.

Gay Lit Collections For Teens

Originally posted at SHUSH...

    Back in early December I
posted a
request
for Debra Whelan at School Library Journal. She was looking for a
conservative viewpoint on gay teen collections in school libraries. I don't know
if anyone contacted her or not but I said I'd post what I sent when the article
came out, which apparently it did last month:

Hi Debra,

Here's my take...

First and foremost I don't believe schools should be getting into issues of
sexuality at all. They have a responsibility to educate students on what sex is
and how it works but the issue of sex as pleasure is something best left to parents.
The excuse used that parents don't talk to their children about sex is an excuse
used by those who simply don't like what some parents are saying. Ideas about
abstinence, marriage and monogamy are anathema to certain groups of people who
believe that if it feels good it must be okay. Bringing sexuality into the schools
is a way of promoting only that viewpoint.

On the issue of teens and being gay I could tell by your message you don't have any
question there is such a thing as a gay teen. But not everyone agrees with the view
that a person is born gay. I believe everyone is born with traits of both sexes and
the levels of those traits vary from person to person. So certainly some men can
have a high level of female traits but that doesn't make them a woman. If you are
born male you grow up to be a man and all the responsibilities implied with that.
If you wish to turn your back on it you are free to do so but its a decision to be
made as an adult, not a child. Until adulthood its the parent's role to try and mold
the child as best they can. And no parent is ever going to encourage their children
to be gay.

So yes I also believe that everyone is influenced by the environment they grew up in
and that certainly can be a negative environment. People weren't born wanting to be
prostitutes or pedophiles or to take part of any number of an incredibly long list
of sexually deviant activities ranging from the mildly kinky to the permanently
damaging, both physically and mentally. But it is only political correctness that
has allowed homosexuality some form of special protection which many feel is
undeserved. It is not anymore normal then a monk who chooses celibacy or the
individual that can only find sexual pleasure in being tied up in intricate knot
work. The same outside influences that push one person into a gay lifestyle could
just as easily push them into these others. Yet no one is advocating special
collections in schools for these other subjects or asking for special rights for
such groups.

...so there are my basic views on the subject. Sex is subject as big as any science
so trying to explain a viewpoint on any part of it can get very involved, it touches
on so many other issues. But I tried to keep it succinct. Its also a very hot topic
with some people, so good luck with your article.

Greg
SHUSH

    The only arguments given in the article for not having such collections are
the straw-man of avoiding-controversy which is kicked around throughout and then there's
the quote from the lesbian librarian who says
"Unfortunately, some
media specialists have personal objections to gay literature and are quick to throw
the concept of intellectual freedom out the window..."

    Yeah this article isn't biased at all. Speaking of the lesbian
librarian here is her introduction:

    Arla Jones, Barton's librarian at Lawrence High School and
founder of the school's Gay-Straight Alliance, has become the school's de facto
counselor for gay teens because of her extensive gay literature collection and the
fact she's a lesbian herself.

    Emphasis mine. Besides smacking of 'creepiness' I find it funny that we're
so PC that a lesbian can set-up shop in a high school in a way that should get most
people fired for gross misconduct. It would be as if a Christian librarian set-up a
chapel in the school and started giving communion. I wonder how Republican students
or Christian students feel about getting help from Ms. Barton? Do you think she
treats them the same if she knows? I don't.

    The opening bit was ridiculous. Erica Barton (not her real
name) liked girls since kindergarten? I didn't like girls in kindergarten and I'm a
straight male. She was so confused about being gay in the fifth grade that she tried
to kill herself by slitting her wrists. Am I really expected to believe that coming
out of the closet is supposed to cure someone this emotionally disturbed? Or that she
thinks she's gay is even the problem?

    And then of course the Matthew Shepard card is played, poster
boy for abused gays. Except
he's not
. Has there been violence against gays? Yes. Has there been violence by
gays? Yes, just ask the parents of
Jeffrey Curley and
Jesse Dirkhising. No
amount of books is going to stop people being violent against other people. Tough
laws, tough punishments, yes. Reading, no.

    Why such a biased and absurd article? Well we're given that
answer in the editorial by Editor-in-Chief, Brian Kenney who is gay and
says:

It takes guts to create libraries that support the needs of all students. It takes
even more guts to support collections that may attract fierce opposition. But that
just happens to be our job.

    Well, no it isn't. School libraries are there to fill the
needs of the student, not the wants or imaginings of a child. Mr. Kenney is pushing a
personal agenda and shame on him for dragging his profession into it.

Be A Rebel, Read A Book

While its meant as a takedown of Rap in general I'm loving Jonah Goldberg's piece today for deflating the myth of the mature modern teen. Check it out.

ALA Presidential Candidates Forum

Originally posted at SHUSH

    The two candidates this year are
Bill
Crowe and Loriene Roy
. They were each allowed a 5 minute
opening statement, then it opened to questions from the audience, then
they got a 2 minute closing statement. If its like last year then the
full text should be available in an upcoming issue of American Libraries.
I'm just going to share a few notes.

    Crowe spoke first and kept it pretty light, hawking the resume,
talking about 'paying it forward' and said his focus would be about
connecting generations and connecting cultures.

    Roy got political fast, talking about the world we live in and
referencing privacy and world environmental disasters. Not sure where
that came from. Roy also played up her indigenous background, a lot. And
made an unusual statement that because she was indigenous she
"should not be here today". I think she was implying that her
tribe faced annihilation, but unless she wants me to start beating up
English people for the potato famine I suggest she learn to not hold such
a grudge. (For my view on the native tribes I think this
article says a lot.
Roy made her goals about literacy and
"workplace wellness". Yeah I didn't see that coming either and
I'm still unclear on what it means but what I heard makes me nervous.

    I got to ask one question and this is what I had written: "There
is a relatively small crowd here considering the importance of deciding
ALA's most visible position. Meanwhile other ALA subgroups are currently
having meetings about ALA's future elsewhere. There is a resolution
coming up for Council that concerns adding more Council representation
for Round Tables. Do you see ALA cohesiveness as a problem? If not why
not? If yes what are you going to do to fix it?"

    Whether I said that exactly I don't know. Both candidates were quick
to defend the small audience and said that there would be other
opportunities for participation. How there could be a better opportunity
I don't know. Roy admitted to 2nding the mentioned resolution and again
both candidates made arguments about diversity and that every voice
should be heard. It was pretty much a non-response to a question I found
more troubling as MidWinter went on and I'll talk about later.

    Jenna Freedman got up and asked about the importance of the MLS and
got the party line answer spouted back. Crowe prefaced one of his remarks
with "no one would argue" the importance of the MLS. Hello?!

    I got up to ask about the Iraq resolution but John Berry of Library
Journal beat me to it. Crowe said it was a "wise use of national
resources" and Roy said there was "very little that doesn't
affect libraries." She also quoted Martin Luther King saying,
"war is the enemy of poor people." With all due respect to King
that's a crock because look around you and you'll see that
peace-at-any-cost is what does in poor people. Rich people do just fine
either way and at least wars usually end. Someone asked about ALA getting
involved with library closings. Both supported the idea but only as long
as they had the local support to do so. One of them actually used the
phrase "not to presume intervention". All in all pretty cocky
considering the answers to the Iraq question.

    Bottom line: if politics were a football field Crowe would be so far
left of center he'd be in the end zone, Roy would be in the next county.
Thankfully Crowe only let his politics show when asked a politically
charged question so hats off for professionalism. And for the record I'm
not saying Roy isn't a nice person, she was at Executive Council III and
said hi to me, recognizing me from the forum, but I'm going to lay things
out as directly as I can. ALA has been screwing conservatives for a while
now, I'm not in the mood to be diplomatic.

    Again, keep your eyes peeled for American Libraries for a more
detailed report, just minus the opinions.

Google... So now what?

According to this piece the Tiananmen Square Massacre never happened if you search China Google. I can't feasibly throw out all my Windows computers becaus Microsoft is playing footsy with communists though I can consider Linux a future option. I can stop using Google completely. What's the best alternative?

Codrescu - "Am I Hallucinating?"

Andrei Codrescu came to speak as a guest of ALA President Michael Gorman in his program "The Future Of Our Profession." As someone who grew up in Romania during a time of severe oppression it was apparent Mr. Codrescu felt our future lies in a consistent message of freedom.

Starting first with praise for ALA's fight against the Patriot Act, Codrescu follwoed quickly into a detailed history of the Cuban independent librarian and then stating "Am I hallucinating?", saying that ALA could not act on something small as Section 215 of the Patriot Act and not against the actions against Cuban librarians. Codrescu described Cubans as "starving physically and intellectually" and that "Cuba is Romania of my growing up." He continued to chastize ALA's inaction saying it is "easier to fight for freedom in a country where every book is available." An interesting parallel to a much earlier point about himself saying, "I became a writer because I read forbidden books."

A Q & A session followed after President Gorman's own speech and quickly jumped back into the political waters. Gorman defended ALA's actions saying the Cuban librarians shouldn't have been imprisoned but that ALA should stay out of the politics of Cuban exiles. He also blamed misrepresentation of ALA's actions on advocate Robert Kent and writer Nat Hentoff. Gorman on numerous occasions brought into question the legitimacy of the private librarians and whether they should be considered librarians at all. Codrescu's responded that they are no different then the librarians of his youth.

When asked about the Cuban state librarians Codrescu described them as 'half-policemen' and compared the qualities of state versus private, wondering out loud which librarians were the more legitimate. Codrescu was also asked to explain the high literacy rate in Cuba to which he quickly described as "propaganda" and that to teach people to read but to only let them read state sponsored amterial is "to create a kind of illiteracy".

Audience members found the speech and discussion both uncomfortable and invigorating, one person saying its the most exciting thing they've seen at ALA in some time.

San Antonio

Nice city. Just got here at noon. Checking things out at the convention center. Gorman's thing on library education is too packed so I passed. Awesome center and the few glimpses I've had of the Riverwalk are something else, had no idea. Time to go eat...

*Frequently Used Computers

The poll question today made me look around and see what people were doing online. Should I be bothered that the reason there happens to be so many men in the library these days is that they are interested in online dating?

*(FUCs doesn't really seem like a good acronym to go with...)

An American Sickness

From Jay Nordlinger's column today:

"Not a minute too soon, President Bush and Vice President Cheney are fighting back against this "Bush lied" nonsense. About the worst charge you can level against a president is that he lied his country into war — an unnecessary war. And this lie has been gaining traction among people. What Bush always had going for him - from the first; since he started running in Texas - was that he was a "straight shooter." He was almost painfully honest. Even if you didn't like him, or his policies, you knew he was sincere, that what you saw was what you got. This is an invaluable quality for a politician. (Reagan had it too.)

And Bush is now widely seen as shady, shifty - Nixonian. That is an alarming and stupid reversal.

Of course, as has been amply documented in National Review and elsewhere, the Bush-lied charge is the biggest lie of all. (For a total demolition of this lie, see Norman Podhoretz's piece in Commentary.) That this lie has made such progress says something sick about our culture. That Joseph Wilson is basically a figure of respect rather than infamy says something sick about that culture, too - especially our media culture. His lies have been exposed again and again, and he ought to go away somewhere, Agnew-like, to atone. Instead, he is a proud celebrity. Again, this is sick.

Meanwhile, Bush, Cheney, et al. have a war to win. They have a society to protect, against people bent on doing it harm. Bush and his team are constantly attacked as torturers, as haters of civil liberties - but as soon as any American is killed, they will be condemned as lax.

This is the burden of leadership. The rest of us can just sit at our typewriters and carp. The administration is supposed to stop the Lackawanna Six. But we get to say that the Patriot Act is an expression of McCarthyite evil. Isn't that a sweet deal - for us? All the administration can do is perform. And if they do their jobs, they will be thanked - maybe not soon, and maybe not even in their lifetimes, but eventually, I believe. And I think Bush knows this, too."

Mythbusting

Interesting interview with the author of Disinformation : 22 Media Myths That Undermine the War on Terror.

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