Money Issues

Public v. Private; The Discussion Continues

From The Atlantic Cities:

"press two for costumer service"

I'll admit, to me, the idea of a privatized public library has a certain dystopian ring to it, the ultimate public space corrupted for a profit. That image was not much aided by my first (and second and third) call to Library System and Services Inc., the only library privatization company in the United States. LSSI now runs at least 15 library systems in California, Oregon, Tennessee, and Texas. This means it is, effectively, the fifth largest library system in the country.

Time and again, I ran through an automated response system without finding a real person. A week's worth of emails went unanswered. And then, there's the message at one of LSSI's libraries, which directs you press two for "costumer service."

Is this the future of the reference desk, I wondered? Not exactly the library system of my childhood, where each call about books on hold was answered by the same librarian I had known since I started attending kid's corner book readings.

But then, there's the example of Santa Clarita, California. ...More.

A Tree Grows (Through the Roof of the Library) in Camden

From Philly.com a report on South Korean journalists visit to the city of Camden NJ, where the abandoned library "has a tree growing through its roof". Camden is the second most dangerous city in the US, and the foreign journalists were shocked by the poverty and crime.

Maybe if Governor Christie put some effort into helping that city restore its library and its community the situation would improve for the youth of Camden NJ.

Why Are We Boycotting Elsevier?

Why Are We Boycotting Elsevier?

Walking away isn't always easy. It means we won't be able to submit our work to many journals, some of them with strong reputations. We may have to turn down review requests from friends who serve as editors. We may have to explain to tenure and promotion committees that our choices were made to further knowledge, and furthering knowledge is at least as important as building our reputations. This is why we should congratulate all those who are willing to put their tenure on the line to do the right thing.

Time For Science To Overcome Fears And Kill Subscription Journals

You are Elsevier: time to overcome our fears and kill subscription journals
"Thus, people joining in the new boycott have no excuses not to follow through. There are plenty of viable OA options and it is simply unacceptable for any scientist who decries Elsevier’s actions and believes that the subscription based model is no longer serving science to send a single additional paper to journals that do not provide full OA to every paper they publish. So, come on people! If we do this now, paywalls will crumble, and we all be better off. So, come on! Let’s do it!"

Elsevier Filters Recommendation Engine to Show Elsevier Titles Only

As the Elsevier boycott continues to gain attention, a good example of what the company stands for: the Ex Libris bX service is a neat little recommendation tool that displays suggested citations, working from a known item and based on search traffic. It provides researchers with suggestions based on their area of interest, and the items displayed are usually additional relevant articles (similar to Amazon's "people who bought this also bought..." feature). The Elsevier ScienceDirect site embeds this service in their own custom application, but librarians noticed the results it was displaying were only for Elsevier titles. Here is the Ex Libris explanation:

bX itself is entirely publisher and platform neutral and sends and displays all relevant articles regardless of journal, publisher or platform. But those who build their own applications – like Elsevier did - can manipulate the data by filtering before displaying it. For the app on Science Direct Elsevier indeed filters the bX articles by those available from Science Direct.

Is it any wonder this company gets a bad rap?

Toronto Library Foundation gets $1.5-million gift from private donors

Toronto Library Foundation gets $1.5-million gift from private donors
Marilyn and Charles Baillie have contributed $1.5-million to the Toronto Public Library Foundation’s fundraising campaign, putting it over its $10-million goal.

The campaign, dubbed re:vitalize, was launched in May of 2009 in support of a $34-million renovation to the Toronto Reference Library. Part of the renovations will include a Special Collections Centre, which was supported by the gift. In recognition, the centre will bear their names.

Oxford library fine figures revealed

Oxford library fine figures revealed
Oxford University’s libraries accrued almost £130,000 in library fines last year.

Universities across the country amassed fines totalling £50 million, While Oxford’s takings are significantly more than that of universities such as Imperial College London, who collected just £26,703, they remain some way off the £1.8m amassed by the University of Leeds.

U.K. universities made £50 million from overdue library books

U.K. universities made £50 million from overdue library books
Freedom of Information requests revealed British universities took in £50 million from students whose library books were overdue or simply never returned. Some schools have policies that students owing fines cannot graduate.
The figure of £50 million (US$77.3 million) was arrived at after the Press Association filed Freedom of Information (FOI) requests with all universities in the U.K. The information spans a six year period, beginning with the academic year 2004/05.

Gift Cards for Library Employees a No-No

Good intentions. Bad idea. Those words summarize the recent attempt by Live Oak (GA) Public Libraries Director Christian Kruse to spend nearly $23,000 in library funds on gift cards for 166 employees.

The cards were valued at $50, $100 and $200 and were meant to recognize part-time and full-time employees after about three years of stagnant salaries and increased health care costs, Kruse said.

He said the cards were meant to be a small token for the work the staff does and were paid for with surplus revenue from a special fund from book sales, fines and fee revenue. Finance Director Neal Vickers later said revenue from copying and printing fees was used.

One problem is the gift cards may have violated restrictions on the use of public funds, according to state officials.

The gratuities clause of the Georgia Constitution prohibits the use of public funds for gifts or bonuses, said Ronald Watson, director of the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts’ education division. A state audit of the library probably would cite the purchase as improper, he said.

Any money that comes from library operations, which are state supported, should be invested in operations, and gift cards don’t qualify, Watson said. More from Savannah Now.

Oshkosh Public Library gets $1.1 million gift

Oshkosh Public Library gets $1.1 million gift
life-long Oshkosh woman described as an avid reader and movie watcher made a $1.1 million bequest to the Oshkosh Public Library.

The library board decided Thursday to use the money from the estate of Marjorie M. Drexler to establish a memorial trust fund.
Drexler died Aug. 16, 2010, at the age of 87.

[Thanks Mark!]

Pages

Subscribe to Money Issues