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I have a couple of long term projects. One I think is sort of funny... wireless for the library. Why is this funny? Well, half the people that come in the library to use the computers have no idea how to use them. How would they benefit from wireless? And people with laptops... they might like wireless internet, but still insist on plugging in their laptop's power cord, which is against policy.
The second long term project is time access management software.
I had a request to disable the "log off" function on the public access terminals. This leads to the, er, obvious problems. We do need to be able to log off. And we do need to be able to shutdown (and I'd rather have a librarian logging in every half hour than a patron turning the computers on and off, and still needing a librarian to log in anyway). I could enable ctrl-alt-delete on those boxes again, but I don't want every schmuch ctrl-alt-deleting when our network is slow.
The network, my nemesis. I still don't understand, exactly, how the network at the library works. We're networked to a T1 line. Evidently we are behind a firewall that Boston uses. Windows is our responsibility. But I'm thinking we must have a server machine somewhere, although my predecessor says we don't. So where is our filtering software? Also in Boston, because it has to operate in front of the firewall. I think I need to talk to someone and get the low down on exactly how this whole thing knits together, before I start even pondering too deeply the ramifications, good and bad, of time managment software.
We simply can't afford a kiosk or another computer to manage internet reservations, and even if I could somehow rig the print server to act as as server for this as well (I'm not entirely convinced I can't), I don't relish the idea of having the librarians and support staff have to log on to the server to make appointments. The key here is to save time. And a self-service station requires more hardware. If any new hardware comes in, well, it's going to the staff. Or the unfiltered terminal, which is pre-1997.
Client only should work, even though it won't entirely eliminate our handy dandy sign up sheet entirely. Try finding variety in client only systems. And I would like it to work with Horizon, without having to be tweaked in Boston. And I would like it to work on Macs. Tall order. If you know of anything, please, please drop me a line.
My wish list for wireless? Yeah. Well, I'll get to that, when I'm entirely convinced it's a good idea. The assistant director suggested it, and I'm not sure he's entirely convinced it's a good idea either. I would rather be a late adopter and get it right, at least on this, methinks.
Ohmigawd! Ever since I was hired part-time as reference support staff in 1995, I have worked a Tuesday-Saturday schedule. This is my inaugural weekend as a M-F person. Of course, I'll be on a weekend rotation (every 3rd Saturday, every 6th weekend), but this is my first Friday to be home, chill out and know that I don't have to be up at any time I don't want to be up Saturday morning.
When I got my MSLIS degree in '98 and became a full-time, (capital L) Librarian, I was given the chance to adopt a M-F schedule. At that time I had younger kids--they had a lot of school holidays on Mondays, and they were with their papa on Saturdays, so it made sense to keep my Tue-Sat schedule. As they are older (10 and 13) and don't need (or want!) me as much, and have more Saturday activities, a good ol' Amerkian M-F schedule makes more sense (yeah, I still have one night per week, so it's not strictly a 9-5 deal).
Do you have any idea how long it's been since I've been to a garage sale?
I was on information alone for the first time today. That's when everyone and their brother decided to come in. I had people dropping off posters and books and mail. I had people wanting new cards. I had people crashing the Macs (they like to freeze up and nothing but a hard reset will fix them), I had people with issues about their local post man (like I can help that), but the best of them all was the near-fist-fight.
It was young patron versus older patron. I don't know who was more trouble. It was over... what else... the internet. The older patron didn't want to sign up for the next slot because she didn't want to sign up for a computer that might not come available. I told her that was the policy. She told me she wasn't a moron. Of course, it would be easy enough to cross one's name off the high tech paper and golf pencil sign up sheet we have.
The young patron called her something less than polite, and she came to tell me. I got the young patron (who'd already been there an hour and half) off the computer, explaining that she'd been there over the amount of time we allow and others were waiting. She was fine with me, though knowing human nature, she might have been less than polite with the other lady.
Then it started. They started going at each other... First comments about manners, and civilization, and etiquette. I was waiting for them to whoosh out the boxing gloves. I stood there, like an idiot, just looking at them. My first thought was... we're getting this excited over Hotmail and Internet Explorer? So I stood there, unable to say anything, between the two of them. Believe me, I wanted to say something. But I couldn't think of anything that would sound professional. So I just let them glare at each other, and left when I was reasonably sure no one would get hurt.
Two patrons today (and lots of staff) mentioned time access/management software. I think it would help. People would be cheesed because they'd have to use a card for the internet, but hey. It is a library.
The unfiltered terminal's keyboard died this morning. No biggie, right? Yeah, it's one of those archiac pre-ps/2 keyboards. Believe it or not, I went in the computer cemetery and found one with the right adaptor that worked. I had to clean it off. I didn't want anyone to catch anything from the keyboard.
A well deserved weekend. Yay. I will spend it researching software and... the Toyota Prius!
The whole thing was worth it, last night, when our director did her Howard Dean impression. What a scream.
So I wonder how many upper eschelons will have fundraiser hang over. No, no one was drinking, but I left at nine, when my coach turned into a pumpkin, and it was still going strong.
I got to explain the new print station yesterday, which was a might bit surprising for me. I came in, and suddenly I was giving a staff presentation.
I learned that none of us know where the toner is coming from for the printer, so I have to call about that today. Thank god laser toner lasts a bit.
I also realized my brochure for patrons on how to use the thing should come sooner rather than later.
This is the only time you'll hear me say this: The computers started acting out at the presentation, and boy was I glad. It kind of gave people an introduction to what to do when I'm not there and that happens. For most things, the assistant director wants only me touching the boxes (my preciousssssssssss) but I really think that most people can handle holding down a power button till the fans stop and then waiting ten seconds and pressing "on" again.
The director asked how I felt about the custodians switching the computers on in the morning. Hell, I don't care. As long as they don't kick them. Gotta leave something for the patrons to do.
The ornery machine is kept on the carpet, which bothers me. The alternative is to keep it on the edge of a tiny table, which also bothers me. The alternative I like the best is keeping it in my office.
It's Friday, the day the library is at half-staff. When the kids get out of school, the place is hopping. Last week there was a fight over the pay phone. Some kid came up to me after the fact and said, "That kid on the phone for an hour wasn't really talking to his mom." I never would have guessed.
Off and on, I have been sharing selections from Thomas Merton's "New Seeds of Contemplation." I finished reading the book several weeks ago and continue to recommend it highly. I'm closing with a selection on peace and one about hate that I thought were especially valuable today, though they were written back in 1961. The years 1961 and 1962 brought threats to America's existance that make 9/11/2001 pale into insignificance.
From Chapter 16, "The Root of War is Fear"
"When I pray for peace I pray God to pacify not only the Russians and the Chinese but above all my own nation and myself. When I pray for peace I pray to be protected not only from the Reds but also from the folly and blindness of my own country. When I pray for peace, I pray not only the enemies of my country may cease to want war, but above all that my own country will cease to do the things that make war inevitable. In other words, when I pray for peace I am not just praying that the Russians will give up without a struggle and let us have our own way. I am praying that both we and the Russians may somehow be restored to sanity and learn how to work out our problems, as best we can, together, instead of preparing for global suicide."
From Chapter 24, "He who is not with Me is against Me."
"Do not be too quick to assume your enemy is a savage just because he is your enemy. Perhaps he is your enemy because he thinks you are a savage. Or perhaps he is afraid of you because he feels that you are afraid of him. And perhaps if he believed you were capable of loving him he would no longer be your enemy.
Do not be too quick to assume that your enemy is an enemy of God just because he is your enemy. Perhaps he is your enemy precisely because he can find nothing in you that gives glory to God. Perhaps he fears you because he can find nothing in you of God's love and God's kindness and God's patience and mercy and understanding of the weaknesses of men.
Do not be too quick to condemn the man who no longer believes in God, for it is perhaps your own coldness and avarice, your mediocrity and materialism, your sensuality and selfishness that have killed his faith."
This last section flows nicely into the book I'll start discussing on and off in the next few weeks -- Prisoners of Hate: The Congnitive basis of Anger, Hostility and Violence by Aaron Beck. A book with a Grand Unified Theory of Hate that explains barroom brawls, domestic violence, and the endless war in Chechnya with a single principle.
Take care until next time,
So last night I dreamt about local history. Our local history department is located in the old building, and is ruled with an iron fist, and rightly so. There is some old stuff there, not the least of which is the refinished furniture.
No one is allowed to touch the refinished furniture. It's all placed around the gigantic old fireplace and old librarian office, to make a corner of the library look as it did 120 years ago or so. It's gorgeous. Check out Henry Hobson Richardson and the Small Public Library in America : A Study in Typology
by Kenneth A. Breisch. We're in there. I believe that's us on the cover; it certainly looks like us. I've never seen Richardson's other libraries in person, so I wonder how similar they all are.
Anyway, I had this dream that a class full of fifth graders came in and were climbing all over the furniture, and I was under the watchful eye of the director to get them under control.
When they left, I discovered they all wrote evil things about me in the poll books.
People can be so rude. There was a guy on a cell phone the other day at our public access terminals, just gabbing away and surfing the web. He wasn't even talking in a hushed voice. I directed him outside. On his way out I heard him say, "Yeah, the librarian kicked me out." The librarian. Cool.
Today is my first fundraiser (take a picture, mom, and put it in my baby book). It's a trivia thing. I have a lot to do at the library, but of course, this is a good opportunity to actually meet all the people that are involved in the library, so I guess I'll forgo the traditional library tasks today.
I can't wait for my new reference books to come!
I love the public. Really.
I made change for this guy out of my own pocket because he was having a real hard time figuring out what "Dollars full, please insert coins" meant. I was sort of on my way to do something else, so I had to help him out quickly.
I did learn it's easy to hide in the young adult room if you sit at the librarian's desk and move her ALA "Read" poster stand in front of the computer.
I installed OpenOffice.org on a few computers today. I don't want to bankrupt the library buying Office suites after I bought the very necessary staff antivirus. I use OO.o in Linux and it's very capable, and plays fairly nice with Word and Excel. It seems just as good in Windows. My direct supervisor is getting a copy tomorrow. Then she won't have to take work home.
Speaking of viruses, some nice person downloaded one on one of our new internet terminals. Of course, it's the internet terminal that doesn't want to start anyway. I guess this virus likes to randomly rename dlls. Ahem. Norton (public access computers, at least, are pretty protected) says there's nothing toxic on the computer. I hope it nailed it. I really don't want to play the old "regedit"/repair game. Things were working so nicely.
I ordered some health books for reference today. Updated our HIV books, and got a cancer encyclopedia. And some books on diabetes. Next up, atlases. How long has the Soviet Union been defunct?
I'm happy. I just got an email from a LISNewster who called LISNews "truly the toughest website to use." Why am I happy about that? Because this person points out what's wrong with the code, pages that are broke, are hard to use, and links that are missing.
We get somewhere around 5,000 visitors a day now, and I'm lucky if I get one or two suggestions a month on how to best make the site run. This might be due to the fact that most people are happy , but it's more likely because people just don't complain enough. Rather than thinking something is wrong with the site, they think they can't use it because they are having troubles. This is not a phenomenon unique to LISNews in anyway, read any good usability book, or, better yet, do a usability study, and you'll see it for yourself.
I probably shouldn't complain about the lack of complaints, and I defiantly shouldn't ask for more, because, as they say, I might just get what I ask for. I simply don't have the time to make all the changes I'd like to make as it stands now, add to that a pile of new ones, and I'll never get anything done. Until I can figure out a way to run LISNews for a living, the changes will be slow in coming.
So my point today is simply, I know it's not the easiest thing to use in the world. I added what I thought would help to the help page, but if something's broken, or hard to use, or you just don't get it, let me know, and I'll see what I can do.
I got my husband a geek tool for Christmas, and it's somehow found it's way into my messenger bag. It's a Swiss Army Knife with screwdriver bits... Torx, and other heads... The little square head and stuff. I don't know what they're all called. The custodian saw me taking apart the mac with it and was quite jealous.
The Mac. Yes. My ever hopeful reinstall failed. No hard drive mounted. So I decided to take the hard drive out of another dead mac and put it in the previous mac. Right. Someone at Apple stuck the screws in the hard drive so tight the God of your choice him/herself couldn't get it out. So that baby goes to the shop.
Good news: I found a working Mac. I took the memory out of the hard drive impaired Mac and decided I'd beef up this one. Right. First, I dropped every screw I touched in the case. I had to open the case to get the silly things out. Then, surprise of surprises, one screw in the motherboard assembly (which I had to dismantle) was stripped. The kind custodian managed to get it open for me, so I could get the damn screws I dropped out.
After taking the mobo out, I realized the futility of my efforts... Older, tray loading Macs, may take the same type of memory, but not the same memory stick. Right.
I put the mac back together (with much swearing--most of it under my breath) and it still works, although you need an engineering degree to get the silly cabling to sit flush with the snap on cheesy plastic tray.
I guess the good news is that I learned how to open a Mac, and get around it. The bad news: three hours of my work day gone with really nothing to show for it.
Today: reference and local history. I am going to try to do a repair of the operating system and reinstall drivers on the Dell that got the virus (it was popping up porn in the children's room. Heh). Hopefully that will fix the fact that something about the NIC isn't recognizing the network.
I saw this new article on WorkingforChange.com via Alternet:
Martin Luther King: Terrorist?
Full article at
This article should be read in the light of the definition of "Domestic Terrorism," contained in 18 USC 2331 -
" (5) the term ``domestic terrorism'' means activities that--
(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;
(B) appear to be intended--
(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.
A few choice quotes from the article:
"He would be decried, by powerful figures inside and outside government, as at worst a domestic terrorist, at best a publicity seeking menace whose criticisms of America gave comfort to our unseen enemies.
The powerful black religious networks that produced King and so many other courageous civil rights leaders would be attacked by federal prosecutors as providing financial support for terrorism. Church groups' tax exemptions would be lifted; records would be seized. Charges would be brought, perhaps under federal RICO statutes or Patriot Act provisions. The FBI harassment that hounded King throughout his career would today be fiercer, and subject to no judicial oversight.
I should say that
WorkingForChange are not much more "Fair and Balanced" in outlook than Fox News is. However, they state their biases up front, which Fox does not.
Are there any legal types out there willing to offer an interpretation of 18 USC 2331 (5), specificaly if all three points mentioned:
(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(ii) to influence the policy of a government by
intimidation or coercion; or
iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping;
must be fulfilled to be terrorism or whether only ONE of the three conditions needs to be met. If the latter, then it seems like the plain purpose of the Civil Rights marches was to "coerce" the American government and broader society to grant broader rights to blacks. Hence King would have been guilty of fomenting "Domestic Terrorism," as would Gandhi if a similar law existed in India.
Then again, I suppose any teenagers went on the marches without the permission of their parents, then the government could have added "kidnapping" charges as well -- thus fulifilling the full criteria for Domestic Terrorism.
Thanks for listening. Merton really is coming soon -- probably Thursday. - Daniel
Here is my first entry by way of a test message.
Score so far for this journal = boring but perhaps I will think of something useful to post soon.
Nearly every copy of Wuthering Heights in a twenty mile radius of Boston was checked out (or lost) last Saturday. There was one left at Chelsea.
A young lady (not the Wuthering Heights type, I might add) came in looking for it, frantically. I was wondering what brought on this need for classic literature. We checked our library, Everett, Medford, Melrose, and finally discovered Chelsea's. But Chelsea closed at five. It was four fifty.
I told her I could put in a reserve, but she told me it was useless after Monday. Someone's flunking a test today, methinks.
When I was in school, up in Northern New Hampshire, they supplied the books we were required to read. I guess that's good, because the local libraries never could have survived the influx of kids looking for A Separate Peace. Then again, we're having trouble accomodating all those kids with Wuthering Heights, aren't we?
My Mac battles continue this afternoon (late shift for me). You know, once I'm off info. They're liking putting me on info and reference at the busiest times. I suppose it's good, but I'm always exhausted when I'm done.
I really hope my reinstall of OS 9.04.08.34.3922.214.171.124 works, as I found a web page yesterday about replacing iMac hard drives that claimed it was perhaps the most difficult iMac repair to do. It looks like we have later models than the iMac they showed, however. And I would hope Apple would fix a major design flaw that you have to remove the freaking motherboard to put in a hard drive.
I'm writing this entry especially for urban librarians and librarians who live at the edge of rural areas.
Try checking out Countryside Magazine. It is a print publication whose web site contains selected articles from issues going back to 1998. It is an extremely plain spoken magazine catering to the needs of homesteaders and people wanting to make a break for the country.
Some recent articles have included:
Every issue also hosts a whole bunch of recipes. Some are written by editorial staff and others are sent in by readers. I have found good recipes for pita bread, hummus, and oat cakes. Whether or not you live in the country, there will be something you or your patrons can use.
Part of what I think is great about Countryside is that no monthly issue sugarcoats rural life. Every issue has stories from people across the country making the homesteading life work. Even the ones who love what they are doing speak in great detail about how hard it all is.
The bottom line is that if you feel have have people interested in old-time recipes, frugality, or chucking the city life for the country, you would be doing them a favor by subscribing to Countryside. Alternative energy patriots would also benefit from a subscription.
If you already subscribe to EBSCO MasterFile Premier, you can already read Countryside Magazine online. As someone who's read entire issues online as well as in paper, I can tell you that the PDF version through EBSCO can't compete with a paper copy. At least on a computer screen. Maybe it would be okay on a reading tablet with an 8 1/2 x 11 screen.
Top 20 journals, with # of page views, according to Urchin, for the month, so far.
1. shoe 345
2. nbruce 281
3. Daniel 229
4. Blake 203
5. djfiander 187
6. birdie 159
7. AshtabulaGuy 142
8. Rochelle 121
9. mcbride 87
10. Bibliofuture 86
11. Karl 85
12. GreatWesternDragon 76
13. madcow 72
14. singingbelle 68
15. donwarnersaklad 63
16. daidy 61
17. kctipton 59
18. sabine01 57
19. nbruce/rss 56
20. jeni 54
For my money, shoe is some of the best reading anywhere. (update) #19 is, in fact, nbruce's rss feed.
I've been getting some pressure from some patrons to put Chinese language word processors on the internet terminals. We most indubitably need Chinese word processors, but not on the internet terminals. If there is no word processing on the internet terminals, there is no word processing on the internet terminals, regardless of language.
The problem being, I'm nearly 100% sure that our word processor terminals, which are sad little boxes running Win95, can't handle our Chinese word processing software (used on staff computers).
So I have to upgrade one of them. I know I could do it if I could get one of the Dells fixed (It's not recognizing the LAN, and they're salivating for it in the children's room). I could then take the Win2k IBM from the children's room and put it on the public access area.
The assistant director said, "Time is now your enemy." Boy was he ever right.
I am reading about installing and reconfiguring Foolproof, our Mac security software. If my reinstall of OS 9 works on the iMac, I'll be having to do that. I am not horribly hopeful that my reinstall will work, but you never know.
By Douglass Shand-Tucci in the book The Crimson Letter page 350...
Nor do I mind as much as I should that the Boston Public Library still
refuses to publish (though they have duly paid for it) my evidently too
inclusive guide to that landmark.
pages 49 and 79...
We know something more of these clubs
[St. Botolph Club, Tavern Club]
from the more intimate memories of some of their leading members.
Theodore Dwight, for instance.
He was appointed director of the Boston Public Library on the eve of
the opening of its palatal new building Copley Square, and his
lifestyle sheds much light on these circles in the 1890's.
This at a time when Leaves of Grass, locked up at Harvard's library,
was also double-starred at the Boston Public Library--Lent only on
application to adult students.
Dwight was close to Henry Adams as well as to
Isabella Stewart Gardner, and also knew well the Harvard scientist
mentioned in Chapter 1, William Woodworth.
The nature of these intimacies?
Consider Dwight's correspondence with Gardner
"of a nature 'in his words' quite too confidential to have been written
Homosexuality in Boston, particularly in this era, is itself very sotto
voce. But, like the figure in the carpet, if one listens and looks
hard, it can be pretty evident.
My 16 year old son put together a collection of anti-war songs at my request and even though these lyrics are 40 years old, I realize that they have as much significance today vis-a-vis the war in Iraq as they did when my friends and I protested the war in Vietnam. Check them out: Bob Dylan's Masters of War lyrics here and P. Sloan's Eve of Destruction here, not to mention Country Joe McDonald's Fish cheer and Fixing to Die Rag
lyrics, except on the version I have, the word spelled isn't exactly FISH. I think my son, a fan of classic rock, and a peacenik like his mother, really enjoyed hearing these songs for the first time.
Honestly, I think it was... It was dead today. I even got to install Chinese fonts on all the new computers. I don't think I can do it with iMacs. The Macs all know how I feel about them.
I learned I don't like to order books. I love spending money on books, but I felt like a total slacker sitting on Amazon all day looking at reference books. Not that we get them there, but it was a good way of seeing what was available. I also learned we're woefully behind in certain series. I have to call Gale Group on Tuesday.
See, all my other jobs, if I were on Amazon all day, I'd get fired. I definitely feel more productive when I'm ripping apart computers, even if I don't get much done.
Monday is a holiday... for those non-US residents, it's Martin Luther King Jr. day. The library is closed. I don't think it will stop that fine young man that comes in every week and asks for the books on Martin Luther King Jr. Nice kid, really. Hangs out with his friends at the library, and sometimes they get a little loud, but they are voraciously reading about African American leaders. Reading is a glorious thing.
So here's an interesting problem that most people don't have now, and no one had just a few years ago.
I accidently let my wifes domain name expire earlier this week. Luckily I caught it in time, so no harm done. Even while it was expired her email kept working, which I don't understand, so she didn't catch me, but I did fess up.
So for a happy marriage, always renew your domain names early, it's like never forget her birthday or anniversary.
Remind me I have to download some Chinese fonts for the new computers... of course, I don't think our brand spanking new print station supports Chinese fonts, so I have to look into that too.
Alas, after doing such scarily named things as zapping the PRAM and holding down the "c" key while the iMac booted from CD, I have come to the conclusion that the hard drive pooped out on it. Hard drives are weird things. They either die in a week (like the ubercomputer's did) or they last forever. Evidently, this three year old machine (out of warranty, methinks) didn't know that rule. Looks like I'm going to learn to open a mac sooner rather than later.
I got my iPAQ. It is mondo cool. Now I have to construct a database (ha ha) about our machines. But today, since I forgot everything at work yesterday, I am loading it up with software and a couple of mp3s. And pictures of the dogs.
I don't care what my husband says, I needed it and it rocks!