Revenge of the Miscellany

As it was suggested might happen, this is another one of the columns being posted.


Revenge of the Miscellany
By Stephen Michael Kellat

Why Kiwis Get Airtime So Much

It might be an interesting question to ponder why the Library Association of New Zealand, LIANZA, gets so much airtime on LISTen while the American Library Association and its myriad components do not. Was the air staff bribed? Are there agents of New Zealand's intelligence services working on the air staff?

What is going on is a simple point in terms of media relations. Libraries where library staff cannot afford the benefit of having a media relations officer stand to learn something here. When media people make an inquiry about setting up an interview or simply request information there is normally a deadline involved. It is a very grave offense to the media member when you ignore them entirely and act as if they do not exist. Timeliness is also a grave concern as taking over a week to even return a call generally means that not only has the pending story died but the media member likely moved on to the next project.

The main reason why LIANZA gets the airtime they do is that Megan Button, the media relations contact for the association, actually replies to our inquiries. After multiple repeated failed attempts to book guests from the ALA and OCLC since December 2007, we gave up on them. There are often plenty of stories out there and we have a hard upper limit on program length of thirty or so minutes anyhow. If we have to wait well over a week after the launch of a new product to even start discussing an interview, the editorial thought processes kick into high gear questioning whether the release is actually all that interesting if those making the release are so seemingly unenthusiastic spreading the word. If I had to choose between a product release that has no seemingly enthusiastic backing and a feature on Linux in Libraries, I will definitely be choosing Linux in Libraries when I put together the Order of Show.

While LIANZA has had plenty of cool stories come up as of late that have caught my eye, I do not doubt I have probably missed a few throughout the Anglosphere.

Release Frequency

What can I say? Frequency is a matter of concern to librarians. Librarians have such as an every day concern when it comes to serials like magazines and journals. We sometimes forget, though, that online resources fall under the relevant cataloging rules known as continuing resources that happen to be shared with serials.

Just as a serial item has to meet or exceed a minimum publication cycle to be considered an actual serial, so it may need to be with podcasts. At the barest elemental level, all a podcast happens to be is a set of audio or video files with appropriate XML description. The problem with that look at the barest level, though, is that it does not recognize distribution frequency.

What do librarians call a serial publication released only once per year? Our piece of jargon for that is annual. Such continues onward with weeklies, dailies, and more existing. When there is not a normal pattern, we often see coded in the 362 tag in USMARC-based records a notation of irregular frequency which recognizes leniency on the library's end when postal authorities might well decide the publication is not quite a serial.

When it comes to podcasts, though, cycles sometimes are ignored.

CNET's flagship podcast Buzz Out Loud is released weekdays with occasional special episodes. At LISNews you can find LISTen released weekly on Mondays with special episodes released on-demand by the air staff. Far too many library-related podcasts take months or years between making releases and do not follow any conformed release pattern. Podcasts are conventionally considered regular programs on regular schedules that mimic magazines and journals.

How could a cataloging record be best handled for a podcast? How can the library world include teaching not only about the preservation of cultural expression but also how new professionals can best create their own cultural expressions?

Internal Insecurity

In the past couple months we had a post at LISNews about a community in California having to choose between cutting the library budget and cutting the public safety budget. At the time, it was only a hypothetical exercise that led to plenty of hyperventillation. Nobody ever thought such could happen.

Last week, the Board of County Commissioners here in Ashtabula County slashed the budget of Sheriff William Johnson pretty severely. Ashtabula County is the largest county geographically in the state even though the local population is barely above one hundred thousand. Over a county of slightly over seven hundred square miles in size, Sheriff Johnson's staff policed about six hundred to six hundred fifty of those square miles as municipal forces covered their municipalities. With the budget cuts the Sheriff was slapped with, there are now only two deputies on the road covering the county. If you need a police response now for anything less than a fairly drastic felony or an outright capital crime like murder, you will not be getting one. Many crimes will go undetected and potentially unpunished all for the lack of greenbacks.

Due to the byzantine complexity of budgeting for local government in Ohio with a system barely changed from that imposed in the 19th century, the county commissioners could not burgle the library budget to shore up public safety. Ashtabula County District Library will be safe. Kingsville Public Library, a separate library service district in which Erie Looking Productions operates, is also similarly safe as the county would automatically trigger a fiscal emergency situation if they tried to pillage Kingsville Public Library's tax revenue.

This creates a bizarre situation within the continental United States where a community has less of a policing presence than some Third World/Global South nations. That the budget cuts created a drastic enough change to where the fictional Mayberry of The Andy Griffith Show looks like a fascist police state in contrast does not help either. With the question of the county defaulting financially becoming not so much a matter of if but when, a new example for textbooks on failures in local government will soon be created.

Big questions arise from this. What good is it to have a library open when you have no legal way to eject ruffians and others who disrupt the order of the library? Self-help by library staff in kicking out those who might be defacing materials could potentially lead to lawsuits. Assuming good will on the part of all who may come is a nice ideal but as this is a fallen world it must be remembered that there is evil out there. If you like the odds of nothing bad happening to your library in such a degraded policing situation, there are casino owners who would love to take all your cash.

Relocation, Relocation, Relocation

It looks like economic pressures are forcing relocation of Erie Looking Productions by April. There is no plan yet as to what may come. Stay tuned for more.

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Kellat serves as the Head Writer of Erie Looking Productions.

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