Blogs

orders....

This is for all you tech services people out there... I've been working on some books on cassettes today and have seen some wacky orders. There doesn't seem to be a consistent pattern to how these things were ordered. (I'm not even going to go into the extraneous notes placed in the order records. Yikes!) I have multi-part titles that are each order differently. One title gets a single order record, and another gets individual orders for each part. Whee. Now, this is a HUGE order... like takes up the shelves on the back wall huge.

Change to LBC

The Librarian's Book Club (LBC) is now on a two month reading schedule. Previously a new book was selected every month. Now books are selected bi-monthly. This is to give people more time to read and discuss the book. Several people have recommended this change and I have seen the need for it myself as I struggled to keep up with the reading.

Are There Any Moderates Left?

I find that because the the current politically polarized climate I have become a Conservative. I am not and besides I find some of the conservative comment and dialogue extreme in the other direction.

Web terms in Spanish

I'm proofreading a brochure for our Spanish-speaking patrons about Spanish-language resources on the web and in our library. It's a document that I compiled, which was then translated by volunteers. I know just enough Spanish to be dangerous, but I've found some stuff that looks just plain wrong. My main question, though, is, Is "the Internet" more commonly referred to as "the Internet" or "la Red" among Latino Spanish speakers.

Distance Learning and Libraries

My former boss managed to squirrel away some professional development funds for us this year (some of the librarians in other colleges in our system weren't as lucky) and I decided to go to the state distance learning association conference instead of a strictly library-related one. I've always been interested in distance learning and think libraries and librarians are an important aspect of the learning experience and need to be better integrated into online courses.

my birthday wish

Today is my birthday. I have my crappy schedule today, which is the 1-9 shift. Also, the YA librarian is on her honeymoon (congratulations to her) so I probably will be on the desk more than I would be. I am sort of hoping that as a birthday present I at least wasn't scheduled in the Young Adult Room. That would suck. That rates right up there with the Children's Room.

Iraqi people optimistic; BBC has the story

If you read Michael Pate's excellent Third Superpower blog (hosted right here on LISHost.com) [1], or if you check the Strategypage from time to time [2], or if perhaps you've discovered just how funny Scott Burgess's Daily Ablution can be [3], then you may already know about this poll. On the off chance that someone may not yet have discovered these wonderful sites, and this interesting poll of Iraqi public opinion conducted by Iraqis and "sponsored by several foreign media networks", I'll summarize the results here.

  • 70% believe they are doing well
  • 56% believe life is better than before the war
  • 70% are optimistic about the future
  • 53.3% want coalition forces to stay until there is a functioning Iraqi government
  • 15.1% want coalition forces to leave immediately
  • 75% want a strong, unified state, without special privileges for ethnic or religious subgroups
  • 20% of Iraqis want an Islamic state
  • 49% believe the war was justified
  • 39% believe the war was wrong
  • 41.8% believe the war liberated Iraq
  • 41.3% believe the war humiliated Iraq
  • 17% approve of attacks on coalition troops
  • 78% feel attacks on coalition troops are unacceptable
  • 96% feel attacks on Iraqi police are unacceptable

Iraqi perceptions of the country's most pressing issues:

  • 22.1%: lack of law and order
  • 11.8%: unemployment
  • 9.5%: inflation
  • 4.2%: electricity shortages
  • 4.1%: housing problems
  • 3.7%: quality of infrastructure
  • 1.8%: terrorist attacks
  • 0.2%: religious & ethnic strife

(Emphasis indicates those numbers I feel bode well for the future of Iraqi civil society.)

What I find perhaps most striking of all is that the BBC, which many feel has shown a distinct anti-war bias in its coverage of the invasion, has reported about the results of the survey. Of course, they were one of the media concerns that sponsored the survey. And while the report doesn't overlook the negative findings of the survey, it also cannot overlook the positive. The report starts thus:

An opinion poll suggests most Iraqis feel their lives have improved since the war in Iraq began about a year ago.

The survey, carried out for the BBC and other broadcasters, also suggests many are optimistic about the next 12 months and opposed to violence.

The BBC hosts a PDF summary of the survey as well.

UPDATE: I forgot to include James Dunnigan's comment on the poll results and the press:

One thing the survey makes very clear is that most foreign media reporting on Iraq are reporting what they want to see the Iraqi people thinking, not what the Iraqis are actually thinking. This, however, is not unique to Iraq, although European and Arab media tend to be even more distorted in their reporting than is usually the case.

[1] A Dose of Reality
[2] Shocking Results of Iraqi Public Opinion Poll
[3] 0 - Number of Interesting Posts Today

technology shuffle

Sometimes I wonder where my brain is. It just dawned on me, when I was thinking about the direness of only having two word processors, that the old internet terminals are upstairs. Nothing wrong with them, per se, just kind of old and they were replaced with the newly nicely Friends of the Library donated computers.

So that got me thinking...

...if one's at least running Win98, which I'm fairly sure they both are, (albeit a little slowly), I can just move the Linux machine (waaaaaah) off the floor, put the old internet terminal 8 downstairs, and make it card access and print capable again.

Our fifteen minute email terminal is a stand up terminal. It's located by our catalogs. Its location does tend to deter most people from standing there all day. Not all of them. But a good percentage. I could transform one of the catalogs in the same location into another fifteen minute email terminal.

It would add an extra half hour terminal to the mix, and keep people from lingering more than their fifteen minutes just checking their email incessantly.

I should talk. I am one of those people that always has to check email.

Putting this in motion should be fairly easy. Just tweak the restriction off one of the catalogs (we have five and they're never all in use), and physically remove the Linux box (it shall return, somehow, some way.)

Then I'll just tweak the old internet terminal 8 at my desk, and stick 'er out on the floor.

The public will be pleased... no more internet down time. Well, till next Tuesday, my scheduled maintenance day.

Rachel Singer Gordon has an article over at the Library Journal site about using the technology we live. (For some reason I've got Jethro Tull's Living in the Past running through my head thinking of our 486 donations.) Generally a good short little piece, but I take exception to the section on IM.

I hate Instant Messaging, from many standpoints. It's insecure. That's the big thing. It's also not really key to the information gathering process, which is really what we want our computers at our library to be used for (I understand that that is not a priority at every institution, and that's fine.)

I hate it for the peripheral reasons too. It's a time suck, most definitely (like the internet is one big time suck). But IM sucks faster. I also hate that it encourages kids to use shorthand. Nothing irks me like... "C u @ 8" or "L8r, k?"

I hate it for personal reasons. I hate it personally. When I am typing at the computer, I don't want you popping up messages saying, "IM me, hav sumthing 2 tell u." If it were something important, like, "I'm getting married" or "Mom is sick. Call her." or "My shirt is on fire" that's cool... but it never is. It's stupid stuff, like, "What are you doing now?" I'm so tempted to say, "Blocking up the phone line, trying to avoid your fricking talking to me."

So IM will not come to our library any time soon. Behind the times maybe, but we're not here to be a social club. When InfoTrak starts IM'ing stories from the Wall Street Journal-- okay, then I'll claim defeat.

Outside! Yes! Loud Cheering!

Wow! What a gorgeous day. I was outside. My husband was outside. My son (6 months old) was outside (either in the stroller or in the PackNPlay). I had a great time using the electric hedge trimmers my husband just bought. The shrubs out front looked horrendous. Now, only half of them look horrendous.

My husband planted a pecan tree, put pine straw in a few spots, used the push mower to clean up a couple of spots, and cleaned the carport closet. Which was gross. Very gross.

Courses to Come

Hmm...Fall 2003:Cataloging and ClassificationBibliography of the Social SciencesIntroduction to the Information ProfessionsInformation Sources and ServicesSpring 2004:Introduction to Research in Library scienceAdvanced Cataloging and ClassificationManagement of Technical and Access ServicesDeveloping Library CollectionsSummer is the interesting conundrum.

oh my god... a thank you!

We had a woman, upon hearing that we put in the time access software, actually thank us for finally taking action. A lot of the older patrons, or more timid patrons, are too shy/polite/intimidated by the "regulars" to come claim their time slots on the computer, and for whatever reason don't bother the librarians to do so. As much as I hate playing internet cop, I hate even worse to think that someone doesn't get their turn. Which is why that software is now in place.

I dreamt about it. I dreamt about some old guy with an eye patch coming in (not that we have any patrons that I know of who match this description) and complaining because "That sort of software records every move you make." We tried to tell him that it didn't, and he left in a huff.

I tried to warn as many people as I could that they would need library cards to use the internet. Some people have actually even gone to sign up for one. I'm going to let circ know once again that if anyone puts up a stink about needing a card, to get me personally. Not that I'm a huge fan of conflict myself (in fact, I usually avoid it all costs) but the circ staff puts up with enough crap with people making big deals over their whopping ten cent fines and such.

My line is going to be it's for the preservation of the system, and to fairly and equitably distribute access to the patrons. I might put it in simpler terms for those who don't speak English fluently (we have a lot of people who speak foreign languages (very cool!), and a few who just kind of nod, and I've never heard speak).

The software does open up a lot of possibilities. For instance, we will be able to see, in no uncertain terms, how many people are using the resources, and for how long. We can somewhat limit to an hour a day, so our results will be more accurate than they were previously. It won't be as cool as if we were using library cards to actually log in, but honestly, I think a nine digit one time use number is going to be easier for patrons to type in than the huge barcode on the back of their card.

As long as the regular internet hogs don't find out where I live...

I foresee a few complaints and a lot of explaining this week. It should decrease with time. I managed to make my instructions on how to sign in at the reservation station fairly short and sweet.

virtual reference issues

One of the most important aspects of reference work is the development of relationships. Libraries, through the individual actions of librarians, need to form a bond with their patrons. This isn't terribly difficult to accomplish because people coming to the reference desk have a problem to solve. When a librarian helps them solve a problem, there is the potential for a connection to be made. This should be evident through examples from our daily lives: Aren't problem solvers useful people? Do you feel loyal to the last institution from which you received good service? Will you return to the institution when a similar need arises?

Virtual Reference, as conceived by many projects, makes it nearly impossible to create this bond. The absence of this possibility isn't a function of the fact that the transaction is virtual, it is a function of how there's no steady or repeated connection. To get more coverage, one of the VR projects we?re working for has welcomed libraries from very disparate areas. Joining forces makes sense for this reason, but I don?t think it takes into account that it causes patrons to have seemingly random reference encounters. Throughout the week, there are many, many individuals with whom patrons may come into contact. In essence, these transactions are reference one night stands.

Another thing to note is that the librarians working for this VR project, including us, have made it standard practice to use pseudonyms for our online presence. This is a barrier perhaps not recognized by the patrons, but a barrier nonetheless.

Another problem with VR is that current programs still aren't meeting patrons in a convenient place. Simply having *some* presence on the web isn't good enough. Patrons surfing the web either do or do not presently use a major instant messaging service (AIM, YIM, MSN, etc...); this is a fact. Those that are already chatting would find it more useful if libraries were present in one of these services. As simple as it may be, it is still an extra few steps to navigate to a VR website and enter in a zip code to log in. Those that don't already chat are perhaps even less likely to consult a VR service. (Thinking to consult a service, navigating to the site, logging in and then chatting can all be big hurdles).

A possible solution to both of these issues would be to simply meet the patrons where some of them are, the major IM services. Librarians would be at the fingertips of their patrons if they would have an IM program running. There would be no navigation for users. We would be integrated into their lives. Patrons would be familiar with whom they were chatting, and they?d chat with the same library, the library that they visit in person, on a regular basis. A relationship would be formed.

Michael Stephens made a serious but somewhat offhand comment advocating the adoption of using a major IM service for VR instead of expensive vendor software. People took note and blogged about just that one comment because it makes common sense. VR software from vendors is bloatware.

Some libraries are indeed using AIM for VR. I'd love to hear how it is going. Does having an IM name out on the web flood librarians with questions from random netizens any more than having a telephone or fax number out there? I'd guess probably not. Even if it did, imagine the possibilities.

I recently registered a new AIM name, one for the library. Soon there will be business cards with this name to be handed out to the young adults in the library. The name will also go on our website. I bet we'll get more response from this than we have from our current VR project.

Sick but rejuvinated by conference

Blah, bleg, blug. Yep. The mighty stomach virus struck me down this past Saturday. I never get sick. Once a year, I will have to go home with something. I felt ghastly Saturday, Sunday, and called in sick Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday through today I crawled to the South Carolina Association of School Librarian's (SCASL) Conference. Hey, I paid money out of my pocket. But, it was worth it to be there and miserable.

Dream job...

Last year I applied for this job (didn't get it) and I would love to apply again this year but I would end up missing my wedding. I wouldn't mind so much but I think my fiancee would be a bit miffed. What better way to spend the summer than on a ship cruising to exotic locales?
So someone out there, get this job and send me lots of postcards, okay???

Fang's Omission

My quote in context.

"Sex with a horse is not the same as naked pygmies. The former you would never find in a public library before 1993."

Anyone willing to discuss the veracity of this statement?

Richard Clarke 2002 vs. Richard Clarke 2004

An article on Reuter's ("Republicans Want to Declassify Clarke's 2002 Testimony") suggests that Clarke has given two rather different accounts of the Bush Administration's attitudes towards terrorism: one, most famously, before the commission investigating failures of government leading up to 9/11, and the other before congressional panels in 2002.

Now, senior Republicans in Congress want to declassify Clarke's congressional testimony to show the discrepency:

"Mr. Clarke has told two entirely different stories under oath,"
[Senate Majority Leader Bill]Frist said on the Senate floor.

He quoted Clarke as telling Congress behind closed doors, "the administration actively sought to address the threat posed by al Qaeda during its first 11 months in office."

Clarke on Wednesday told a commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks that the Bush administration in its first eight months in office regarded terrorism as "not an urgent issue" -- a charge the White House has hotly denied.

Said Frist, "It is one thing for Mr. Clarke to dissemble in front of the media ... but if he lied under oath to the United States Congress it is a far, far more serious matter."

On The Newshour with Jim Lehrer, 9/11 commissioner John Lehman (former Sec. Navy) commented: "And I think, frankly, because it turns out we both have the same editor at Simon & Schuster that there's a certain amount of bookselling going on here and fair and judicious does not sell a lot of books."

If Clarke's 2002 testimony is declassified, it will be interesting to compare it point-by-point with what he's said before the 9/11 commission. If he did lie to Congress, his book promotion may end up costing a good deal more than he anticipated.

Girls Gone Wild

The crowning event last night was the crank phone call I got on the info desk. The circ desk picked it up, and promptly put it down again.

"Ms. S--, there appear to be some kids calling for you on one..." my trusty sidekick said sweetly from the circ desk.

I picked up the phone and was met by giggles. Obviously, these kids were amateurs. I was an amateur. My cousin, however, could pull off any crank phone call with a straight face.

"I'm calling to see if my movie is in. It's a porno."

So, the little creeps weren't terribly creative, either.

I decided to play along. I probably shouldn't have. "What's the title?"

There was a mortified pause. Then more giggles and a triumphant, "GIRLS GONE WILD!"

Reality: I told them to have a nice evening and hung up.

Fantasy: I could have handled this several ways. Scenario One goes like this:

Me: Girls Gone Wild? That's not really the porno genre. If you're looking for a true porno, I suggest something like Amateurs #127 or, if you're into classics Debbie Does Dallas. I see though, since you're really into library type settings and are obviously good patrons, and library supporters, that you might like something a little more themed, like Midnight Librarians.

Them: Um. [Click].

Scenario Two:

Me:Sorry, I can't seem to find Girls Gone Wild. Perhaps the title is slightly different than what you're remembering? Is it perhaps a series title? Let me search OCLC for the MARC record... No, nothing. Do you know the author? I could scan the 245 field for you? Oh, here it is... Mantra Film's Girls Gone Wild. For the record, there's several titles under this series name. Is there a particular one you're looking for? No? Do you have internet access at home? You can check the catalog from there for a suitable title... To make your search easier, the Library of Congress subject heading for this is Women -- Feral.

Them:[All I hear on the line is the dripping of drool (and possibly snoring) and then... click.]

Catalogers: Please forgive any mangling I did of your profession in my fantasy scenario. I still maintain I have the utmost respect for catalogers and all you do, since I am so confused by anything other than the 245 field. So what would the LC subject heading for Girls Gone Wild be?

What Gives With the SRRT

I am trying to figure out what makes SRRT so anti-Israel. First there was the one-sided resolution about the destruction of Palestinian libraries. It would seem only fair to recognize the fact that the Palestinians have equally disrupted Israeli culture. Then there is the Alternative Resources on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. The four page list has some of the most vitriolic anti-israel locations on the planet.

Sex with a horse is not the same as naked pygmies

Tomeboy wrote in a comment: Sex with a horse is not the same as naked pygmies.

Well, I beg to differ because it clearly is to some people. From my web site (Chronology Part III):

1999, June: National Geographic

PANAMA CITY, Fla. -- A fourth-grade student was reading a magazine when his teacher, Wanda Nelson, grabbed it, called it "pornography," ripped up the offending pages and threw them in a trash can.
The magazine was National Geographic, and the pornography was an article on evolution that included drawings of naked humans.

Success

Well, I am pleased to note that the TA software unveiling to the staff was a success. The assistant director was pleased with the functionality of it, as was the old systems guy. So were the rest, but I think those two got more of what went into actually putting it in.

Most agreed it was less confusing than they thought it would be (I think it's less confusing than the print software), but I think they wished there was a way around going to circulation then going to sign in on the Gatekeeper software. Of course, the Reservation software only comes in if there's a wait. There will be waits, but not big long waits anymore, I don't think.

Why? Because I managed to get the card access idea to fly. Circ staff didn't protest too much, and whereas a few librarians were concerned about the extra step in signing in, I think patrons will eventually figure it out. With any luck I will have an hour or two on Saturday to make signs and get the instructions and documentation done.

I've got the basics down, though, enough to run the system, and I'll be there the first two days to do the trickiest parts -- open and close.

For some reason the "power down" sequence occasionally causes a "restart." My husband had a suggestion that maybe I've got the pull down menu on the client set the wrong way. I figure that's a reasonable assumption. I had left them on restart, I believe.

My disabling of ctrl-alt-delete went beautifully, and there should be no way to exit out of the timer software now.

I made the offer that if anyone has a real problem with the fact we're asking for cards now or the fact they're getting timed, would they please be directed to me. I don't want the circ staff to have to put up with the abuse that I know will be inevitable from a few people.

I did put out one sign introducing the new system, explaining how it would work and why we were doing it. I'm sure no one will read it. One of our custodians has a great saying, "People come to the library not to read."

Yesterday on info I had a girl try to convince me to let her take out reference materials. I know this girl's track record. Even if I could, I so wouldn't.

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