November 2002

Opposition to USA Patriot Act Is Growing

Robin K. Blum noticed This One that has librarians and booksellers working together to oppose the USA Patriot Act.
They have an Open Letter to Vermont\’s Congressional Delegation, urging Senators Leahy and Jeffords and Congressman Sanders to introduce legislation to eliminate provisions in the USA Patriot Act that undermine Americans\’ Constitutionally guaranteed right to read and access information without governmental intrusion or interference.

Visual net spins literary web

Bob Cox Bob Cox passed along This BBC Story on, an interactive program that reproduces the text of more than 2,000 books as works of art.

The texts, which range from Shakespearean classics like Hamlet to Lewis Carroll\’s Alice\’s Adventures in Wonderland, are supplied by Project Gutenberg, a free online library.

Once a book has been chosen, the program reprints the text line by line, in a wide oval around the screen.

Frankfurt Book Fair

Mike Winter writes \”The Frankfurt Book Fair, billed as the world\’s largest event of its kind, is held annually in October. I had trouble gauging its size, so I asked a colleague who also attended this year, and he volunteered the following: take the ALA annual summer meeting and multiply by four or five to give a rough idea of how big the event actually is. Press releases say that there are about 300,000 titles on display (no buying or selling is allowed, although on the last day Fair officials tend to look the other way as exhibitors sell some materials on the side)and over 260,000 visitors. Publishers come from everywhere in the world. Rumor has it that more book contracts are signed here in the seven days of the Fair than anywhere else, and there are so many celebrity authors that it makes the ALA conference look like a convention of vanity presses held in the parking lot of a mom-and-pop motel. Statistics, official photos, and background info and be found at \”

NewspaperDirect at Vancouver Public Library

Mark Koep writes \”Vancouver Public Library is excited to be the first library in the world to offer, in partnership with NewspaperDirect, a unique, cutting edge service which provides our patrons with the possibility of same-day access to over
150 international newspapers.

Newspapers are laser printed within the library on 11×17 paper from PDFfiles from NewspaperDirect. The response of our patrons has been enthusiastic. Many have been dumbfounded that today\’s or even tomorrow\’s papers from around the world are available here at VPL.

Press release, Vancouver Public Library,

Google is a Global Phenomenon

Steven Bell writes \”A Nov.28 NYT article, \”Postcards From Planet Google\” explores the social relevance of the dominant search engine – over 150 million questions a day from 100 countries. Google collects every search query and enters it into a database. The article focuses on the stories these queries tell, and what can be learned by analyzing the question patterns. For example, why was there a sudden spike in queries about Carol Brady\’s maiden name (you\’ll have to read the article to find out). Even your local public librarian knows that something is up after the 17th grade-schooler in a row asks for the same information. Google just needs to do this on a massive scale with no knowledge of its user community. The big question: can the data analysis be used to turn a profit? The marketers are showing up at Google. Read more (registration needed) at The NYTimes \”

A Paean to the Public Library

Deborah Walker writes \”Haroon Siddiqui spoke a week ago on November 21, 2002 at a breakfast seminar sponsored by the Canadian Urban Institute on \”Knowledge Centres for the 21st Century: How Big City Libraries are Helping to Advance the Urban Agenda\”This editorial in today\’s Toronto Star captures the content of his speech.


Ann Landers advice is taken by library

Cynthia writes \”From the \”Take My Advice, I\’m Not Using It\” Department:

This article appeared in today\’s Chicago Tribune (11/27/02)Metro section. \”…the personal correspondences of Eppie Lederer, better known as advice maven Ann Landers, will become public domain at the Chicago Public Library.\”

(You may need a login to get the article with the URL.)

China Jails 30 People for Internet Use

Laurie Gibson writes \”I ran across this story on Yahoo News about 30 people in China who have been jailed for Internet use—one of whom is a former police officer who was sentenced to 11 years in prison for downloading articles from pro-democracy web sites abroad. They say Amnesty International urged China to free at least 30 people jailed for using the Internet to share information or express their views.

Way Back When

Rachel sent along
A New Scientist interview with Wayback\’s Brewster Kahle.

The Wayback Machine gives you access to the Internet Archive, which has taken an almost–complete snapshot of the World Wide Web every 60 days since 1996 – that\’s about 2 billion pages. This archive is now a vast record, storing pages others have censored, deleted or simply forgotten to maintain.

He points out The whole point of comprehensive library collections is that you can\’t tell in advance what will be important.

My favorite question:

What does a Wayback Machine look like?

It\’s 150–odd standard PC cases, with four drives in each, standing on end on racks. So they look a bit like a bookshelf – which is deliberate.

Going out of the private meeting room business

SomeOne submitted This One from FL where

The Tarpon Springs
Library wants to stop letting private groups use its
community room after a group it banned threatened to sue.

\”We\’re going out of the private meeting room business,\”
City Attorney John Hubbard said.

City officials say scheduling the room is just too much
trouble. If the City Commission agrees, all groups that
regularly use the room will have about a year to find
another place to meet. After Sept. 30, the library will
keep the room to itself.