Blogs

First time!

Hey, I just realized I've never posted in this crazy thing. I'm not sure I have much to share at this time, but I can't leave a feature unexplored. I have a LiveJournal and also a Blogger account but I am too lazy to post anything there. It's a bad precedent for the future state of this journal.

Feel free to leave me a comment or friend me or make me feel like I matter in some small way.

I'm back...

Well, I needed to take a few months off from everything extracurricular due to some pressing business projects. Since I'm self-employed, work hours extended to the evenings and weekends. If it's not my daughter or wife that I'm paying attention to, then it's my work. Everything else falls in when time permits. I've read lisnews everyday, just not a chance to comment, moderate or author. But I'm back. And it feels good.

Filters

Don't get me wrong, I like porn as much as the next girl (that came out wrong), but the more I think, the more I think the unfiltered terminal has to go. I have to do a test today, or tomorrow, or if I ever have time again, just to see the limits of the filtered terminal.

Which means I'm going to have to do searches for things that are dirty. Which I really don't want to do at work. I guess if that's part of the job, though. I just want to make sure, really sure, the filter isn't too restrictive. It doesn't seem to be, being primarily an offensive image blocker, not text.

The vernacular form of the verb to fornicate (a phrase borrowed from someone on one of my husband's newsgroups) isn't blocked by this filter. That's as it should be, if you ask me. But further investigation is necessary.

People have complained about the unfiltered terminal. People being what they are, leave nasty images on the screen for the next user (who may actually being doing something legitimate) to find. This bothers me. Plus the pop ups. For those you who have never gone to a porn site, they open sixty bazillion windows when you click on a link. Sometimes, there is no way to get these windows the hell off your screen, short of shutting down or hitting task manager (which of course, they can't do with our security software).

People aren't going to like this. The assistant director had a good point yesterday, when you give the public something, it's impossible to take it away. But I think it's a lot like kindergarten... We'll just have to explain that four or five people blew it for the rest of you, sorry.

Patrons have complained, about the porn, about the state of the machine. The machine demonstrates the chaos theory though. I cleaned it two days ago. Yesterday, the cookies and the spyware was a mess again. The cost in staff time of maintaining that one terminal is just silly.

What concerns me more is the time management software. People are not going to like registering with their library cards to use the terminals. But they'll have to deal. You need to have a card to take out a book. If anything, those computers are a lot more delicate, abused, and harder to replace than a book.

People might pay another $20 for a new copy of Mystic River. They're not going to want to pay $1,000 for the computer they zorched. But we've had computers zorched. And I sure as hell want to know who the last person that used it was. Not that I'd necessarily blame them, but to see if there is a pattern of destruction.

What worries me about the time software, too, is the difficulties the people might have in using it. People are endlessly confused about our print station. This will tie in the same way. There is going to be a learning curve.

On the other hand, people are endlessly confused by our sign up sheet. Evidently, if someone is already signed up for the time you want, it is acceptable to cross off their names and put yours in. Or if you really want to use terminal 7, it's okay to put your name in terminal 5's box. Then you can get all p'o'ed at the person using terminal 7 when they don't get up at exactly 2:00 and terminal 5 has been open for half an hour.

Ah, if only there were perfect solutions.

Peace in our time?

ALA, like Neville Chamberlain, has embarked upon a policy of appeasement with Castro's Cuba. Placation with furrowed brow, rather than an unseemly resolution that would neatly tuck the organization in the same bed of George Bush and John Aschroft. ALA will pass on this ménage a trois.

Instead we (at least I) get this email. Pasted with the pride only Chamberlain could have felt when his BOAC parked him, his haughty moustache, and his Berchtesgaden stationary amid a crowd of Londoners wanting peace. They didn't know better....we do. So I offer this reply given to me by ALA.

And so we have "peace in our time"?

Sequels

I Spend Too Much Time Here II


What the heck am I going to do with fifteen moderator points?!?


Why Every Librarian Needs a Palm II


OK, I now have the USDA Nutrient Database, CIA World Fact Book, and IMDb all on my new Palm. As well as four hours of MP3s (all from CDs that I own, I'll have you know). This just rocks, and the IMDb is the one that gets the most use, I must admit.

LC and Dewey Celebrity Deathmatch

Okay, so LC isn't one person. It would be cool to see Melville Dewey (or how did he want it spelled, Melvil Dui?) take on all the Librarians of Congress. Or even just his contemporaries. Today I got a call from my alma mater, Salem State College. It seems some student said they returned a book that belonged to them to us. Problem being, Salem State uses, like many academic libraries, LC. Our circ staff would have blown a gasket had they found that. I told him that if we had gotten it, it would have been returned to the library within about a week or so, and it's been a month.

Bummer for some SSC kid.

I also, at the egging on of the assistant director (and not because I wasn't just a little curious to see it), installed OS X on the Mac in the public access area. Whoops. Our security software doesn't work on it. Looks like 9.1.3.4.5.2.4.2.4.7.4.3 goes back on it tomorrow.

I do like that it has a terminal window with a tcsh shell that you can tool around in. I can do limited tooling.

best.reference.question.ever

funny old math teacher: hello aaron
me: hi there.
fomt: where on the internet can i find a picture of janet jackson's breast?
me: tee hee.

no moderation

I can't moderate! I have a gajillion moderator points and no comments out there to mod...it doesn't really matter to me but I think that this is one area where the Slashcode doesn't scale as well to a smaller number of users. With fewer people using the site, there are less flamewars/comments, hence less work for those who would be happy to moderate if they were so inclined.

bats in the belfry

Okay, they weren't in the belfry. There was a poor little bat stuck in the assistant director's office last night when I went up there to vent about how freaking stupid one of our computer vendors is. I have to thank that little bat, who was tired and scared out of his little bat mind, for getting my mind off the evil cheapo power supply they stick in these computers and on to his little plight. The custodians set him free once he perched low enough.

Today I have to call the aforementioned vendor and ask them exactly what they did, if anything, to the computer. My guess is they're going to say it didn't exhibit the problem there. Whether they actually tested it, I don't know. I somehow doubt it. I am going to tell them to hook up a voltage meter to it. The last thing I want is the power supply pooping out and taking the motherboard, chip, and possibly drives with it.

Mr. Server came down and up and down and up and down and up yet again without incident. I can get the Macs and Mr. Server to see each other, but they are having a very hard time with communicating. We also aren't set up for DHCP on the print server. I think that is causing a problem with the macs, who seem to want us to be. I don't think it's the problem, but it's a problem. I need a book on Appletalk and Windows specifically. I've done the seed routing and installed the protocols. Upgrading the Mac OS might help too.

I worked reference all alone yesterday. It went fine, except for a slight snafu at the internet terminals. But what's unusual there? Time management software, here I come.

Teachers vs. Educators - Labels Used in the News

I get google news updates for various keywords. I used to teach high school physics and math, so I like seeing what articles Google is finding. I search for "educator" and "teacher" and get separate emails for each. What I notice is that, usually, "teacher" is associated with a lot more negative news than is "educator."

  • teacher arrested
  • teacher charged (or accused)
  • teacher sentenced
  • educator awarded
  • educator remembered
  • educator honored

Yes, there's some positive and negative used with both terms, but the headline news Google finds tends to be as I describe above. It's odd. I don't like it.

Alfred (Nobel) would turn over in his grave

...if he heard about President Bush and Prime Minister Blair being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. AP story here . I thought I was hallucinating when I saw the headline.

Lest you get the wrong idea

I am not, really, an environmentalist. We recycle. Yes. I work at a library where every last scrap of paper is used, but more due to budget constraints than environment, although it's a nice side benefit. But today, we are putting a deposit down on a mondo-cool Toyota Prius.

The Prius is a gas/electric hybrid car. It's a big one, too, an actual full sized car this time around, not a compact. Toyota's coming out with a whole line of hybrid versions of their regular old cars. I think the Rav 4 is now available, and the Highlander will be available next year.

Tell me (open for discussion here) do your libraries require card access to use the internet? We currently don't, but we're wondering about perhaps changing that. Just to eliminate some fights in the long run. And hopefully increase library usage. I mean, library usage, not "free internet" usage.

This isn't a Toyota advertisement, I'm just really psyched about that.

Back to libraries tomorrow, dear LISNews readers. There is a print server with my name, for better or for worse, written all over it.

The Language Police

The issue of censorship is a much like a rented mule, used and beaten six ways to Sunday. My contention has been that the "jack-ass" of soccer moms and deacon daddies is disingenuous and that "hidden" liberal censors are as much, if not more culpable.

Diane Ravitch's, The Language Police (A. Knopf 2003, 0375414827) vindicates my position with a cogent and clearly documented history of her personal experience working with the bias review boards within American test and textbook publishers. The travesty of this "censorship" is its scope and impact upon our children as compared to the flavor of censorship ALA prefers to attack. The "censorship" Ravitch exposes is much more insidious, involving a captured audience of nearly all American school age children to be "educated" by social engineering review boards.

Ne're a word from ALA.

The Council on Interracial Books for Children, National Organization for Women, American Library Association, NAACP, and bias review boards for every major textbook and test publisher are all major players in "censoring" what our children read. For the edification of my "freedom of speech" colleagues this book is a must read. Anything less is willful ignorance.

Some Language Police nuggets:

(tests)

* A passage on peanuts and George Washington Carver was pooh poohed because bias reviewers opposed the term "African slave". They also objected to the historically correct fact that Spanish and Portuguese explorers defeated "native tribes".

*Bias reviewer rejected a passage about economic necessity of nineteenth century women who quilted for family income because portrayed women as "soft" and "submissive".

* An inspiring piece about a blind man who climbed Mount McKinley was purged because it suggested that "sightless" people might be somehow disadvantaged in mountain climbing as compared to sighted folks.

* The bias reviewers did like Aesop's The Fox and the Crow, just not the gender of the characters. They proposed making both characters the same sex or the fox female and the crow male.

* A Native American animal fable edited by William J Bennett was tossed out because it told of animals "emerging from the darkness to find sunlight". Apparently bias reviewers felt some type of racial bias with this.

* An eco-friendly story (or at least one would assume) about a rotting stump that provided shelter and food for animals was chopped because the writer made the mistake of comparing it to an apartment. Seems the bias review board felt this contained a negative stereotype of people who live in apartments.

(textbooks)

* In 2001 Houghton Mifflin added new criteria for their editors regarding African Americans. Stories about slavery, Underground Railroad, dialect, or depictions of athletes, musicians or entertainers should be avoided. Asians should not be portrayed as prodigies or valedictorians, Latinos not as migrant workers or illegal aliens and "disabled persons" not as pirates, witches or criminals (no more Captain Hook)

* Barbara Cohen's Molly's Pilgrim, a story about a Russian Jewish immigrant girl's first Thanksgiving in America, was accepted by a textbook publisher. Unfortunately all mention of Jews, Sukkos, God and the Bible had been removed on behalf of atheists who would object.

*Stephen Vincent Benet's The Devil and Daniel Webster was "edited" as well. For example, "Help me! For God's sake, help me!" was changed to "Help me! I beg of you, help me!" . Walter Van Tilburg Clark's The Ox-Bow Incident had one of it's lines "By the Lord God, men" changed to "By heaven, men". Again, the atheists.

*Not only are McGraw-Hill illustrators required to maintain a 50-50 balance between sexes in their art, they are required to include captions when a women were not full participants. George Washington crossing the Delaware must include a caption pointing out women were excluded from important military roles until the late twentieth century. Some other guidelines forbid:

  • women wearing aprons

  • mothers shopping
  • fathers looking calm in trying circumstances
  • girls watching boys play ball
  • only girls playing with dolls
  • girls jumping from snakes
  • pioneer women doing domestic work
  • women as passengers on sailboats
  • women as nurses, teachers and yes librarians

    The list of "outlawed" words is lengthy. In fact it is a dictionary in and of itself. A sampling:

    • Able-bodied
    • Adam and Eve
    • America/Americans
    • Backward
    • Birth defect
    • Bookworm
    • Career woman
    • Clergyman
    • Costume
    • Cowboy
    • Courageous
    • Craftsman
    • Disabled
    • Downs Syndrome
    • Elderly
    • Eskimo
    • Fairy
    • Fat
    • Fisherman (sorry Hemingway)
    • Gay
    • Girl
    • God
    • He
    • Heroine
    • Idiot
    • Inconvenienced
    • Jungle
    • Kaffir
    • Lazy
    • Maid
    • Man
    • Maven
    • Middle East
    • Minority group
    • Mothering
    • Mysterious
    • Normal
    • Papoose
    • Polo
    • Regatta
    • Seaman
    • Senile
    • Snow Ball
    • Soda
    • Sophisticated
    • Stickball
    • Swarthy
    • Wife
    • Yacht

  • Hello, Mr. Server, going... down?

    I got the blessing to take down the server whenever I wanted, even in the middle of the afternoon while people are clamoring to go online. I am going to do it Monday morning, when I am fresh, and the server is fresh, and we're all just fresh fresh fresh. I am sure that our regulars will be ripped, but I got permission to take all morning if it came to it. I am really hoping it doesn't, but it might be the only way I can get stuff really done. Putting big "IN USE" signs on the Macs when I start Appletalk has been a big disappointment as far as keeping the public away from where I'm working. They simply move the signs and sit their hineys down.

    I had a nice lady tell me the computer crashed today (one of the Macs) and I came and restarted it for her. She was nice in that she said, "I would have done it, but I didn't think you guys would like that much." I told her we appreciated that.

    I also met a very nice young man from a local high school doing a paper on a subject we had not many books about. We got him set up on InfoTrac, which he thought was "cool," and we got him some books through ILL. The good word: "This assignment is due in a month and a half." Plenty of time to get him a book or two. This kid is my new hero.

    I also played Dr. Frankenstein with a Dell and an IBM and a Compaq. Now we have an almost functioning machine again. And it won't be a bad one, either, when it is fully functioning. As far as five year old donated machines go.

    Another Conservative Critique of Anti-Terror Laws

    One of the memes I desperately try to smother whenever I see it is "Only blindly-naive liberals are against anti-terror laws. They've been brainwashed by the ACLU!"

    It is in this spirit I wish to offer a link and some quotes from a 2002 Cato Institute report that the Institute commended to our attention on January 30, 2003 in their Daily Dispatch.

    The report, "Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Preserving Our Liberties While Fighting Terrorism" warns:

    "Government officials typically respond to terrorist attacks by proposing and enacting "antiterrorism" legislation. To assuage the wide-spread anxiety of the populace, policymakers make the dubious claim that they can prevent terrorism by curtailing the privacy and civil liberties of the people. Because everyone wants to be safe and secure, such legislation is usually very popular and passes the legislative chambers of Congress with lopsided majorities. As the president signs the antiterrorism bill into effect, too many people indulge in the assumption that they are now safe, since the police, with their newly acquired powers, will somehow be able to foil the terrorists before they can kill again. The plain truth, however, is that it is only a matter of time before the next attack.

    This cycle of terrorist attack followed by government curtailment of civil liberties must be broken—or our society will eventually lose the key attribute that has made it great: freedom. The American people can accept the reality that the president and Congress are simply not capable of preventing terrorist attacks from occurring. Policymakers should stop pretending otherwise and focus their attention on combating terrorism within the framework of a free society."

    This 21 page report goes to catalog a number of the errors made prior to 9/11 that were NOT addressed by the USA PATRIOT Act and other "security laws" and reminds readers of prior abuses of gov't power. The report concludes with some suggestions that the author believes would make a more tangible contribution to security than expanded government powers.

    Here's one last quote I think deserves mention:

    "Freedom is not, was not, and will never be, a free good. Anyone who wants it must be prepared to defend it. And defending it necessarily carries the risk of seriously bodily injury or death. A free and independent people must take responsibility for their own safety and deal with their vulnerability in a mature fashion. A free and independent people should not expect supernatural powers from their president."

    In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention this report makes the passing suggestion that the best defense against terror is a good offense. Not in the sense of invading and occupying entire countries, but in the sense of sending assaination squads against terrorist leaders. While I don't have a good answer to this, I can't believe such a policy would be any more effective than Israel's policy of killing terrorist leaders. There seems to be a neverending supply of people to take up the terror leadership. I suspect that we'd find the same.

    The CATO Institute, for people unfamilar with it, describes itself this way:

    "The Cato Institute seeks to broaden the parameters of public policy debate to allow consideration of the traditional American principles of limited government, individual liberty, free markets and peace. Toward that goal, the Institute strives to achieve greater involvement of the intelligent, concerned lay public in questions of policy and the proper role of government."

    Stuff Barb Don't Want

    I love these posts! I hope Robin Rose Yuran decides to contribute more "Stuff Barb Don't Want," althought I haven't seen anything lately.

    Stuff Barb Don't Want #1 : at the circ desk
    Stuff Barb Don't Want #2 : What is This, General Hospital?
    Stuff Barb Don't Want #3 : Jesus Eye on the Genealogist Guy

    On my day off, I'm so bored

    I guess this means I like what I do, which is naturally a good thing. Believe me, I've had jobs where every minute is a living hell. This one, every minute is challenging, but in general a good experience.

    Filtering software is my nemesis. Not because I have feelings about filtering one way or the other, really, but more because it's so damn easy to forget to enable it. I think I may have forgotten on one computer. Ahem. It shall remain nameless, but honestly is positioned in such a place and manner, that if you really wanted to view porn on it, everyone would know. I'll get to it tomorrow morning, first thing, and check. I was so preoccupied on this particular terminal with getting the silly security software fixed, the filtering software was far from my mind. What it is: Boston has it in front of their firewall. Or something. Boston actually has it though. And it's a serious case of out of sight out of mind for me.

    I guess my concern with having one unfiltered terminal with many filtered ones (soon to be two unfiltered terminals with many filtered ones) is that it seems to be giving permission to view porn. I heard a staff member (not a librarian) say, "What can you say when they view it?" Well, you can say, "That's not appropriate in the library." But then I thought... well, look what we did. We positioned the terminal facing away from everything else, behind a column -- the patrons are hidden at these terminals. If I say something to the person there about what they're viewing, it makes it uncomfortably obvious that I was looking at what they were doing, and that bothers me. I don't want the patrons to feel like they have to hide when the librarian comes by.

    I'd like to at least have the terminals facing inward, or turned around, or moved... And it sort of bothers me that terminal 2, which is currently down, is right by the young adult room.

    LAN connections are at a premium in the library. Wireless would be good in this respect, at least for us. We could put those unfiltereds anywhere. We could put staff computers anywhere. But there are still a lot of unknowns for me in that respect, so it's still a future project.

    Perhaps a policy in place, something written in our Unfiltered Policies section, would be a nice way to give us an out if we notice someone viewing something they shouldn't. I have declared no printing from the unfiltered terminals. I just don't want Johnny's print out from InfoTrac mixed in with Cindy's Hot and Dirty WebCam. People have made mistakes and printed out the wrong stuff already, so I think it's a sound suggestion.

    Off to read about AppleTalk. And call my mom.

    Some End O' The Month Stats

    January is as good as over so it seems like a good time to look back at 2004 and see how things are going. First, a bit on referrals to LISNews. Google 14,308 (3,300 for the week), Yahoo, 4,056 (945). That's the number of referrals LISNews got this month. I'm mentioning that because of the fact that Yahoo has dropped, or is going to drop google soon, and some people seem to think that's a big deal. I'm thinking nothing will change for most sites, but it'll be interesting to watch. MSN is third at 1972 (441), and AOL is a distant 4th at 728 (192). Overall google accounts for almost 54% of all search engine referrals, and that's just google.com. It's rare that a non-search engine, non-rwss reader shows up in the top ten, this week Jessamyn has sent well over a hundred surfers our way. memepool sent a whopping 2,000 folks our wa for the month as well.

    There were 3 RSS files in the top ten most popular pages this month. We had a daily average of just over 4,000 people a day, about 51,000 hits a day, and we served about 11,000 pages a day.

    I'd also say this is the month the Journals really got interesting. Overall the journals were read about 20,000 times this month. The most popular being:
    shoe 641
    nbruce 578
    Blake 387
    Daniel 323
    birdie 292
    Rochelle 284
    djfiander 266
    AshtabulaGuy 193
    Bibliofuture 134
    madcow 128
    donwarnersaklad 128
    mcbride 127
    Karl 122
    Great Western Dragon 118
    singingbelle 115
    daidy 107

    Another one for the baby book, ma

    Monday I get to take down my first Windows 2003 server. Looks fairly straightforward. I guess there's some function that asks why you're shutting down. I suppose I should put down something useful in that field, rather than, 'Because I want to!'

    So why am I shutting down? Well, I can ping (god, I love networking terms) the Apples, but that's about it. I want to see if I can enable AppleTalk. And I have to get the permanent license up on our print server. For some reason that requires restarting the program. Since I have to take the whole thing down anyway, well, then, I guess I'll just take the whole thing down anyway.

    Today I went to fix some stuff at the branch library. I wish all computer problems were as simple as these... reinstall IE, and whamo! We're up and running again. I found a bit of adware on the computers, but I think she actually uses it. So I didn't remove it.

    I was there till six, and then I excused myself. My husband was nuts, thinking I was kidnapped or something on my way home.

    At the public access terminals: Terminal 7 is, right now, just a monitor. No keyboard. No mouse. And most importantly, no box. I like to count how many people come in and say, "Is seven down?" Um. Do the math. Also at the public access terminals: Today a guy came in to use the computers, and actually erased somebody else's name that was on the sign up sheet, before the actual reservation time. Hello. Even better, he actually erased it and put in his real name.

    So when the guy who legitimately made his appointment came up and said, "Insertnamehere erased my name", Mr. Insertnamehere turned around and looked to see who was talking about him. Smooth operator, Mr. Insertnamehere.

    I ordered an eval version of software and realized I shouldn't have today. I don't think they charge for it... But I guess it's not our policy. But eval software isn't functional like, say, an eval reference book is.

    I think I'm okay. I confessed, anyway.

    Today I went into the children's room, and the children's librarian clapped when she saw me. It was like having my own show. I am going up there and making an entrance more often.

    At the ref desk--remarkable!

    I'm continually surprised at the personal stories that patrons share in the course of trying to find information. Yesterday, a 20-something guy came in, looking for an article about a new Illinois law that extends the statute of limitations for people who, as children, were molested by clerics. I found an article, but wanted to find the statute. Since it's so new, it hadn't been added to the statutes, so it was taking me a long time. While we were looking, the guy, without any sort of prompting, spilled his whole story to me. The armchair psychologist in me was trying to figure out his motive for telling me this very personal story, but regardless of the reason, I found it remarkable and was reminded of the awesome responsibility that sometimes comes to us as information providers. This guy knows nothing about me, my viewpoint, my education or training, but he trusted me to help him with something that would be best handled by a counselor and a lawyer, all because I'm a LIBRARIAN. This isn't a unique situation--I'm sure you all have similar stories. It's just humbling and, at times, alarming, to realize how much power and authority some people assume librarians have.

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