Public Libraries

Librarians offer reference chat

"The Seattle Public Library, faced with an ongoing decline in its walk-in reference business, has installed an online "chat" service its patrons can use to get real-time help from library staff using computers at home, school or work."

"The service, called Live Help, was created as part of a three-way partnership among the library system, the University of Washington Health Sciences Libraries and the King County Law Library. Its launch was paid for with a $30,000 grant awarded through the1996 federal Library Services and Technology Act, which funds special projects in libraries." (from Federal Computer Weekly)

ACCESS the NYPL

Eugene sends word about the new access cards from the New York Public Library. From the 'about' page:"The New York Public Library Research Libraries are expanding the functionality of the online catalog, CATNYP, through the introduction of the ACCESS card and new software modules. The ACCESS card allows researchers to request and use materials from the Research Libraries’ closed stacks. The collections, as always, will be available free of charge, for use on site only."

"ACCESS cards and the CATNYP circulation system provide the Library with tools to improve collection security. An overriding principle of our Research Libraries is that materials in their collections should be cared for and made accessible in perpetuity. The ACCESS card and the circulation system will ensure greater accountability when researchers use library materials."

"With the data from the Research Libraries circulation system, the Library will be able to manage and develop its collections more efficiently and in order to meet current and future research needs. Over the past several decades, the Research Libraries’ collections have grown rapidly in size and complexity, and we need to take advantage of the latest technology to track and manage the 40 million items in them. All major research libraries, including the Library of Congress, Harvard's Widener Library, and the British Library, already have similar systems in place."

Library's DVDs become hot property for thieves

Someone sent along This One From Oregon where the Multnomah County Library's DVD collection is so good that the library is having a hard time keeping thieves away from the latest releases as they wait on the reserve shelves.

Imagination liberates the library

"Toronto's libraries have turned a page; the temple of books has become a community oasis."

"The imposing classical structures that housed the printed word in the 19th century have been replaced by modern, light-filled facilities as casual and cosy as your living room."

"Though no one expected the electronic age would be kind to books, let alone libraries, the fact is that this city is in the midst of a bibliophilic renaissance. Despite decades of cutbacks and the continuing assault on the public realm in all its forms, intellectual and physical, the library has emerged as one community asset that actually means something to people." (from The Toronto Star)

Attorney hired as library director

"The Minneapolis Public Library Board on Thursday chose a former state official with no background in library management to be its new director."

"Katherine G. "Kit" Hadley, until recently the commissioner of the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, was offered the library job and has agreed to take it, a library official said."

"The offer came after the board conducted final interviews with Hadley and the other top candidate, William Gordon, retired head of the American Library Association and a career librarian." (from Pioneer Press)

Library porn a problem in some places, not Hannibal

"The Hannibal Free Public Library was quieter than usual Monday, as the building was closed in observance of Presidents' Day. However, even if the doors had been open, there wouldn't have been much, if any, noise about the use of library computers to view pornographic Web sites, as has been the case at other libraries across the country."

"We haven't had a big problem," Ann Sundermeyer, director of the Hannibal Free Public Library, said recently. "We've been real conscious of it since we put in public-access computers." (from The Hannibal Courier Post via Library Notes)

Life after budget cuts

"Once there was a din, but all is quiet in the city's library since cuts forced staff members to remove every plaything from the children's section."

"Parents complained regularly when the library snatched puzzles, crayons, toys and games from the popular kids room."

"But after the library was socked with two rounds of municipal budget cuts, it's the best staff can do, Director Celia Morse said." (from The Daily Tribune)

Right versus right: Should public librarian turn police informant?

"It was almost closing time when Karen received the telephone call at her reference desk in the community library. A young man was looking for information on state laws concerning rape."

"Because it would take her some time to identify references, she took the name and phone number of the caller with a promise to call him back with the information in a half hour."

"As she replaced the phone in its cradle, a gentleman approached her displaying a badge and disclosing that he was a detective with local law enforcement. He could not help overhearing Karen's conversation and stated that he needed her cooperation. He has been investigating a series of rapes in the area, and the young man on the phone may very well be a suspect."

"The detective insisted that Karen give him the caller's name and phone number." (from The Saratogian)

Library Recognized by National Park Service

Lee Hadden sent over a Washington Post Article on The Thomas Balch Library [Leesburg, Virginia] which has been named to the National Park Service's National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.The Leesburg history and genealogy library received the designation in
recognition of its resources available for researchers tracking secret escape
routes used by slaves before the Civil War. The park service also recognizes
sites used by slaves as hiding places en route north to freedom.

According to the library, it is only one of seven sites or facilities in
Virginia to gain such recognition. The application was completed by library
staff and members of the black history committee of the Friends of the Thomas
Balch Library.

Fed-up New York City bans cell phones at performances

Carrie sent in Good News From NYC where the City Council approved legislation Wednesday that bans the use of cell phones at all public performances.
The ban, believed to be the first of its kind anywhere, includes cell phone use at concerts, movies, plays, lectures, dance performances, museums, libraries and galleries. Talking on a cell phone, dialing, listening or even having one ring during a performance constitutes a violation - and a $50 fine.

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