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Lazarus, come forth

Or, today's version, IBM 300GL, come forth. Today, just for the hell of it, I switched video cards. One from the work room computer (which was dead) into my dead computer. Lo and behold, then they both booted and worked fine. I can not pretend to understand. I made no pretenses that I really understood what exactly went on. I fully expect both of them to stop working if I look at them cross eyed or insult their mothers. But for now, we are once again running with computers where they really need to be. Happily ever after. Amen.

Perhaps it was my computer's three hour visit to the basement computer morgue that scared the bejeebies out of it and got it working again.

Amazing how people will fight over overdue fines. This is over an amount of money I'm sure they don't even notice they're spending at Dunkin Donuts in the morning. But that pays our messengers. It's not like we're salting it away to close the library to go to Tahiti.

If you ask me, libraries without messengers are really bummers. I wish I could have been a messenger as a kid. I find shelving books relaxing. I tend to drop books a lot though. Clumsy me.

I spotted two teenagers in the lower stacks reading. They were being good, but I asked them to go up to young adult. It's kind of dark and skeevy in the lower stacks, and I didn't want them down there alone. I don't like to be down there alone.

Caught a kid last night beating on one of my keyboards playing online games, which is prohibited. I am mighty protective of keyboards and mice. They're like pet hamsters, with their short life spans and their funny odor. Okay, well, at least with their short lifespans.

Priceless Things

Priceless things from this current vacation period:1. Not getting attacked by colleagues on their own initiative and without provocation from me for being a Christian 2. Seemingly every librarian at the Fairview Park Regional library outside Cleveland's west side saying hello and apparently recognizing that I must be a librarian-in-training or something3. Finding the pleasure and humor of books by Will Manley4. Getting to spend time with my family

You are stuck with what we find interesting on any given day

Thanks for all the kind feedback I got last week. I can't begin to tell you how nice that was.

I've noticed a couple "why is this on LISNews" comments for the first time lately. For years the LISNews about page said:

"You are stuck with what we find interesting on any given day, if that happens to interest you, then today is your lucky day." And I always wanted the rest to say: "If not, then tough shit, you're not paying for it."

I can't remember exactly why I took that line out. I guess it just never felt quite right being there, but I still think it sums up nicely what we do here. For the most part LISNews works like this:

Someone has an interest in becoming an author at LISNews.
They contact me, I give them super secret and exciting author powers.
They find a link, story, site, or something they find interesting.
They login, and post it to LISNews.

I've always worked hard at keeping LISNews as open as possible, without going completely metafilter, because I believe that having more people involved with the site makes it more useful/interesting/informative/exciting/etc… Lately, the number of authors, coupled with my time off, has meant there's been a noticeable change in what gets posted. I've posted the majority of the stories over the past 4 years, which means, by default, I controlled much of what was seen around here. That's not really something I ever wanted, you know I've been begging for more authors since day one. I've been begging for more participation in general since day one. I'm trying to avoid the echo chamber, and I think we do a pretty decent job most of the time.

So, to answer your question, that is on LISNews because someone thought it was interesting. It's there because we want it there, because you might learn something, and because we decide what to post. Your feedback is always welcome, but we do this because it's fun, and because we find it interesting. We don't need to worry about ratings, or readership, or offending people.

I'll need another week or so to get the new server finished up, and all the domains moved over. LISNews is going to go last this time, because LISNews is going to be such a huge pain to move I don't even want to think about it until I have to. Keep your eyes on LISNews.org. That's where I'll be testing the new code before I dump all our old data in. You can expect some serious down time and general messiness at LISNews for a while as I make the transition.

Security gates

I always tense up when I walk through a security gate. Not the ones at the airport: I assume that I'm going to set those off, the ones at the library. Even if I'm not carrying any library (or Blockbuster) material. I just tense up. And of course, yesterday I set the alarm off. Not because I was trying to leave with unchecked items (although I have been known to do that), but because I was leaving work with a public library book. The PL never desensitizes anything, since there aren't any security gates at my branch, even though there are downtown.

And, to add injury to insult, our gates don't just make noise, they lock a swinging turnstile. So, instead of swinging out of the way, it hit me. At "waist" height.

I wonder if I can claim workers' compensation.

Computer hospital

IBM computers suck. Am I allowed to say that? More specifically, the IBM computers we got suck. Mine is officially gone to computer heaven (or hell, I'm not sure). Last night I got the word from one of our support staff that, yes, the one in the workroom also seems to have gone. Special collections survived (it wasn't on at the time of the power outtage), as did two librarian's computers (which, now that I think about it, were also not on at the time of the outtage.) I guess I should be thankful for small things, like that those two particular librarians came in late that day.

It all comes down to no money. Not only no hardware money, but no money. Time for a bake sale. To patch the problem, I get the extra cataloging computer in tech services, and either special collections or the workroom goes without.

My desk right now is the computer ER. I have one computer open that doesn't need to be (I just haven't had time to play with the old clamshell case to get the damn thing to shut nicely) and of course my old computer, which is dead. I guess I scavenge for transplantation parts and take it to the computer morgue (the basement) at some point this week. Eventually I will get my desk back.

I was weeding computer books, and I discovered one book on KERMIT that had a 5 1/4" floppy in it. Yes, I withdrew it.

I went down the lower level, where we keep the 005s, and I discovered two young people having a very intense conversation. I guess they were down there because they didn't want anyone to hear, because as soon as they heard me coming with the cart they shut up and went upstairs.

Our one book on the history of the ballpoint pen has been withdrawn. Too bad, it would have come in handy for a school project someone was working on yesterday. Why they're teaching useful things like ball point pen history and not, like, how to use a library, I don't know.

I was told by a nice young lady that the weather encyclopedia I got for the library to help with the massive amount of meterological requests we get was "too much reading." Sigh.

It's actually quite a nice set... It's from the Gale Group, and is therefore at a USA Today reading level. Perhaps a little higher, just due to the general nature of it. Nice set though. She didn't like it, but I was quite pleased with it.

Ladeda

Hi. I am guessing nobody cares what I write in here but I figured I would write something. I am here because my boyfriend writes stuff here! He is such a goofy cutie. So hi Mr. Man! That's it for today!

Debian Linux for Request Tracker, Part Duex

I guess it is my own fault for wanting to run on the bleedin' edge. So I go back to the install floppies and successfully reinstall debian, only this time the dang thing decides not prompt me if I'd rather run a static IP address or one from DHCP. You'd think that debian installers would consider that this might be a server machine, but nooooooo. Running the install in Expert mode proved futile (where the installer actually prompts for this), but for whatever reason expert mode would not install any kernel the installer chose. So how did I get around this blasted anomoly? Yank out the network wire during the dhcp detection phase. Woohoo, I get the prompts for a static IP Address.

So, because I'm running unstable, instead of running head-long into piling on the packages after install, I meticulously pick and install each package one-by-one until I finally get down to request tracker. Slowly I add apache. Then Perl. Then apache-perl. then libapache-mod-perl. At least "apt-get" includes all the little bonus packages that are needed to run these apps. Can't get away from running OpenBSD's SSH protocol, gottah run putty off my XP desktop. Last but not least, Request Tracker. gunzip the doc install file for debian, setup the mysql user for the tables and run the debian install init script.

Strange, Request tracker doesn't want to run from apache-perl. Directory not found keeps poppin up in the browser. libhtml-mason-perl wanted the normal apache anyhoo, so lets try that. Bingo! Request Tracker login. Images ain't loading, but all I need is a symlink and it'll be fixed.

Now only if this headache between XP's built-in active-directory dns-client would quit complaining about my ISC Bind9 + Dynamic updat'ng DHCPD v3, my stupid computer would find more hosts. Could the bug exist in my auto-proxy configuration script? Why not just disable the dang service in Windows XP you ask? I would if I wasn't upgrading the local lan here to Windows Server 2003 and Active Directory...

Faith vs. Religiosity: A column by Anna Quindlen

In last week's Newsweek, Anna Quindlen wrote what I thought was a good, tho not perfect column on the American right's efforts to claim sole ownership of Christianity. While I don't have a link to Newsweek, her syndicated column can be read at GoErie.com.

Quindlen distinguishes faith from religiosity, which leads people to close e-mails with "he was not only going to mention God, he was going to capitalize the G because he knew it made liberals like me crazy."

Along the way, she dispenses with the so-called "worship gap" poll from the Pew Research Center For The People & The Press that made the rounds in the press last fall. I couldn't find the exact poll on the Internet, but there is an article from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life that mirrors Quindlen's assertions.

I think both columns are worth a read. It rings with my experience. Some of the most liberal people I know are people of deep Christian faith and some of the most conservative people I know are simple deists, which is only a step from atheism. I've also known conservative Christians and liberal atheists.

By the way, although I think Quindlen's article is worth reading, I AM NOT intending to attack anyone's (LISNewster's) faith here or accuse them of simple "religiosity." I do think that most of what passes for "faith in Christ" in our political life IS simple religiosity. I think that's dangerous and poisonious to true Christian faith. As Mel Gibson once said, "The number one cause of athesism today is Christians."

one computer in the hole

The more I think about it, the more I am acutely aware we're one computer in the hole now that mine is on the blink... Honestly, I don't hold out much hope of it coming back, unless it obviously tripped a switch somewhere. I think something may have sizzled. And the assistant director was right, giving someone something means never taking it away. I gave our spare computer to the workroom, and there's no getting it back. So my computer gets swapped with special collections, and special collections goes without. Budget cuts suck. Suck suck suck.

So I'm looking at computers, although I don't hold out much hope either way, and I think we'll be limping along until at least June. Here's hoping that nothing poops out in the meantime.

I am just so glad my iPaq wasn't hooked up at the time. Jeez oh man.

So today I get the unfinished business of yesterday, mainly emailing the lady telling her I couldn't find the obit of the person in question (I went over and above looking, too) but I'll see what I could do for her on the directories. I honestly don't see how the directories are going to help her, but hey. I also get to give one patron mixed news about her lost book. This should be interesting. I do expect a fight.

I wonder if the gentleman who threatened to call the mayor on me will be in today. I'd be interested to meet him.

I zorched the hard drive on the previously unfiltered terminal, and intend on putting it out on the floor either today or tomorrow. Zorching was the only way I could be sure to get all the crud that was downloaded (spyware, adware, and otherwise) off the hard drive on that baby. In order to simplify things when Timed Access comes, I decided to make that box Windows (boo!). My email terminals will be Linux (yay!). I could try to set up printing on it now, but I'm feeling lazy. I'll get around to it. I know it can be done.

Problem with the Windows box is I can't get the antivirus to activate. I might try uninstalling and reinstalling, while I set up the special collections computer on my desk.

I awoke with a whopper of a headache. It smacks of an oncoming migraine (I get those on occasion). I would call in today to nip it in the bud, but after the day I had yesterday I don't want them to think I'm quitting or avoiding anything. (Can you tell I'm horribly driven by what other people think?) No, I just hate using sick time. I like to see all those hours on my pay stub.

If I can just put it off till Friday... well, a migraine on my day off would be in keeping with the week, I guess.

The Prius will cost about $400 and take three days to fix (boo!) but the other lady's insurance will pay for it (yay!) and they don't think there's been any damage to the foam under the bumper (yay!). If there is, it'll cost more (boo!). On the plus side, it's just a buff and paint and reseal and coat sort of deal, not a whole new bumper sort of deal, which would have stunk.

tell it to the judge

Today was one of those days I had to repeatedly wash the "bullseye" off my forehead.

I cut myself on the Compaq. Not badly, but enough to discover my hand covered in blood when I was covering info. Then the alarm company decided to test our fire alarms -- all day, I might add. Then some very nice man called, said he didn't feel well, and that because of this he wanted me to waive his late fines. I told him I couldn't if it was just a minor illness. Had he been calling from the hospital, sure. He could have renewed them, if he hadn't had them out the maximum number of times. I talked to him for twenty minutes, consisting, in a nutshell of him saying, "Pleeeeeeeeeeaase? Why not?" and me saying, "No. No, really, no."

Horizon went down. The power went out, which seemingly, um, fried my computer. No hard drive noises. No A drive noises. No POST beeps. The light goes on, but that's about it.

The woman in the balcony was on the phone. She turned it off when I asked. An hour later she was on it again.

I was told we sent out a flyer with misinformation (we never sent it). I was also told (very helpful information alert!) that the obituary isn't always run in the paper the day the person dies. Thanks. They don't teach you stuff like that in common sense-- I mean, library school. Of course, because I am too nice, I went to local history to look up this information, and the information just doesn't exist. At least, not in our collection.

Stolen cards, one legitimately so, one probably not legitimately so. Misplaced books, which turned out to be damaged books, taped together. The serendipity of it was that I was searching for a damaged book that a gentleman had a gripe with, and though I never found his book, I did find a book that another patron thought was missing.

People erasing other people's names on the internet sign up sheets.

On the up side: I helped a young lady and her mom find books on the 1840s. They thanked me and said, "This is the first time I could find something at this library!"

How I needed to hear that today.

Debian Linux

Waiting for my ??? install to complete. I don't remember how many times I've done this in the last two days. If I hadn't barfed the apache/perl install to get Request Tracker working here in the Library I wouldn't be wasting this much time. At least the proxy server I set up is caching some of the packages I've been downloading, downloading again, and again....

I see debian unstable has graduated to 2.6.x series kernel. Too bad it refused to install when I chose it. Grrr. OpenBSD is much simpler, too bad Request Tracker doesn't want install withing the chroot env apache. Bah, I'll blame it on this Compaq...

Am I Being Paranoid?

Two things have happened recently that have me looking over my shoulder.

#1 Yesterday morning I received a phone call from a parent who asked "what are the library's rules for using computers." This gets my antennae going so I two-step around it -- there are several pages regarding computer use in the district policy handbook, AUP, etc. -- while narrowing her question down.

Finally, it turns out what she really wants to know is whether the library is open outside of class time! I had to inform her that due to recent budget decisions we no longer have the staff to maintain those hours. I still wonder why she wanted to know that.

#2 This morning, I looked at my weekly search report from FreeFind. (Such a handy tool to find out how people are searching your site). A person searched for the title Into the Woods, then 20 seconds later, searched "selection policy." Am I being paranoid to think that a parent objects to that book in the collection, and wants to find out just how that librarian thinks she can use taxpayers' money for that kind of book?

But then, maybe a patron wouldn't know the term selection policy. Unless it were a determined book banner.

BTW Into the Woods is a really good example of the world ending not with a bang but a whimper, plus, the ending is quintessentially librarian.

no user serviceable parts

How many librarians does it take to take apart a Compaq?

Besides making the Torx (star shaped) screws, so that getting in to the case is a difficult enough task (I have my geek swiss army knife that has a screwdriver with Torx bits, though), Compaq puts together their computers much like they are puzzle boxes. It took me and the former systems guy quite a bit of time to deconstruct the box... all to switch out a floppy drive!

When I finally got the floppy in (the actual switch took all of three minutes), think I could get the damn thing back together? Puzzle box again! It's still got its sides off in tech services this morning. With five minutes till I went on info, I thought it not a good time to start piecing it all back together.

Today's agenda... get the word processor back together, answer some backed up local history requests, and figure out what the bejeebies I should order and weed from the computer books. The truth of the matter is there are just not enough hours in the day.

I'd love to get the demo for the timed access management, but I can't request it till we're sure on funding. Sigh. It's definitely a hurry up and wait type of thing. Most people who have it in place say it's been a blessing. Anything's got to be better than throwing people off every half hour.

How to pay off the debt and save Social Security

Exploit senatorial intelligence.

Why not?

This could even make me rich. I'll start a MorningStar-type report ranking the portfolios of various senators, then I'll create index funds whose holdings are keyed off of the best portfolios. Perhaps once a year we would recalibrate according to changes in the rankings.

Academia: liberal?

Warning: the following is only loosely related to libraries. It is pertinent to those who work in an academic setting and who think about the political culture of that setting. This kind of thing will go into my blog when I get one.

Jim Henley has some thoughts on why there might be a liberal bias in academia.

Ethics of illness

Like many people around here, I currently have a cold. And I am one of those annoying people who comes into work even if I'm nearly dead. This is primarily because I have no sick leave--if I don't come in, I can kiss that money goodbye. Then again, I know that I'm not going to be a good efficient worker if I'm sick, plus I am spreading germs to my coworkers and the students (who probably got me sick in the first case!).

So, what is the right thing to do? Stay home and miss out on that money, or come in and cause a epidemic? If only my mom were here to tell me to stay home, and make me soup...

blowing gaskets

Arg! Too much to think about.

I know what timer software I want to go with, just for compatibility issues. The question is the Horizon integration... do I want to go with it. I'm thinking it's probably a good idea. The thing is, I definitely want to play around with the demo, and it's going to be a little hairy between here and there. Here's the thing: the one time use numbers I'd use between now and Horizon integration time would require sign up (still). And I hate to have circ deal with it, but it looks like they might have to.

The alternative is that I download an ASCII version of our library card holder database into the software nightly. I'm not sure as this is really going to make life easier, especially since I think our card sign up will increase when people realize they have to present their card for internet usage. People will get their cards and want to use the internet right away (and rightly so, I guess) not wait till the next morning.

I think the best thing to do is use the one time use numbers, and tell people what their next available computer will be. We won't let them know their number will work in any computer, then people won't be cutting ahead of each other. This will probably work, because in order to use the Macs or the Linux box, you'll need to go to circ anyway, and that'll really only be three computers for circ to keep track of right now.

I was hoping I could skirt by in the long term without Horizon integration, but it looks like not. I want to make this as simple as possible for all parties involved.

The nice software man said we can use it for a few months though, before we decide. By that time the Mac version should be out.

No, not our Prius!

The first ding is always the hardest. When it's some woman smacking into the back of your car with the front of her car a week after you got your new baby, it's harder. When you discover that her license plate is embedded in your bumper, it's very hard. When you consider that these things (Prii) are in such short supply that if you need a new bumper you could be waiting till next year... Well, today just sucks.

On the plus side, I'm doing some industrial strength thinking about the internet situation today. Perhaps dealing it at info would be easiest. Otherwise patrons will be going to all different desks at all different times of day, and that's inconsistent and not terribly logical. Then, perhaps circ should deal with it, since they dole out the word processing terminals and such. Reference is out of the question, even though, by rights, it's probably the most logical first choice. Unfortunate, really.

Like everything, there's no "ideal" situation.

Damned Route 1, Autobahn of Eastern Massachusetts. Curse you, onramp!

Juggling librarianship with being a gov't employee:comments?

Today's journal entry is brought to you by a "letter to the editor" from a woman upset by librarians fighting a modification to a state's library privacy law. She stated that as "government employees", librarians did not have the right to fight governmental legislation.

Without a doubt, virtually all librarians are employees of some governmental subdivision. Most of us also have extremely strong feelings about freedom to information and patron privacy. We see ourselves, with some reason, as guardians of the right to know and the freedom to read. How do we balance these two sets of responsibilities?

I'd like to share my own personal view, which I don't claim to be the best. Then I'd like to hear from anybody who feels safe enough to chime in.

My own practice is to never speak out about the level of government that I am working for unless some deep moral value is at stake (relocating whole groups of people to camps, etc). When I worked in the federal government, I never wrote my Congressional delegation, though I felt free to speak out on state and local issues. Now that I work for a state government, I do not comment publicly on any bill before the state legislature. I now write often to my Congressional delegation on matters of concern to me, and I supported our city's anti-PATRIOT ACT resolution through written testimony and letters to the editor.

My wife doesn't understand my attitude and you might not either. She says that although I am a government employee, I am still a citizen of the state I reside in and so have as much right to speak out on legislation as anyone else.

How do you feel? Do you speak out on legislation before your political subdivision? Just library-related bills and resolutions? Anything but library related bills and resolutions?

Keep in mind, I am talking about speaking out AS AN INDIVIDUAL, not as a representative of your institution. Most political subdivisions have anti-lobbying statutes against employees advocating or fighting legislation in their official capacity, and I think that's perfectly fair. It's what we do "off the clock" that I'm exploring here.

If you haven't thought about this before, maybe it's time you did. This meme of librarians as gov't workers who should be seen and not heard seems to be spreading. We should try to define ourselves before others define us.

Until next time,

Let them learn the hard way?

I am trying to not write too much about work right now because we are undergoing budget cuts and I am facing the potential of having to look for another job. Something happened on Friday that I just had to share. It really aggravated me and summed up the attitude in one of the buildings that I split.
I split my time between an elementary and HS. The HS is full of people that should probably retire. They are not open to new ideas, want to stay in their isolated corners, and teach off of typed up sheets that they used in the 1970’s. It is frustrating to try to get anything done. The new state content standards are out and some teachers have flat out said that they are not going to teach them. (Will someone remind them that it is the law?) The good news is that the elementary is the exact opposite. Anyway - - - - I was walking between the middle school and the HS to get some books and noticed that there was a car with its lights left on. I walked over and checked the doors. All locked. About this same time, out walked a teacher. �Hey, Mrs. B____. Is this your car? The lights are on. If not, I’m going to report it to the office so someone isn’t stuck here after school.�
“No.� She replied. “Just let them learn the hard way.� I am pleased to report that I DID report the car and its lights to the office and right before lunch an announcement was made.
I was really upset about this teacher’s comments. Who of us has not left their lights on or locked their keys in the car? Are any of us so perfect that we never succumb to those brain freeze moments? I locked my keys in my car not too long ago when I was in a hurry. Ooops. My point? Students learn so much more from teachers than math and science. They see our actions and attitudes. They see us working and keeping up with the times, or slacking and falling behind. They know the teachers that are innovative and care about student learning – they know who is there for another two years before they can retire. Working with children is more than teaching content! The “Let them learn the hard way� attitude has no place in school. Sure, I am all for the discovery method of learning, but that is not what I am talking about. I hope that our students would care enough for their fellow human beings to report a car with its lights on with out knowing who it belonged to. There is a good chance it might be mine! Do unto others…..
It still holds true and we need to exemplify that behavior.I have left my soap box.

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