February 2003

Bill would make Congressional Research Service studies public

“Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) introduced a resolution Feb. 11 that would make the Library of Congress’s Congressional Research Service products accessible to the public via the Internet.”

“The CRS researches and reports on topics of interest to Congress at the request of members of Congress.”

“The resolution, introduced Feb. 11, would allow public access to much of the CRS information available to members of Congress. A similar resolution was proposed a few years ago.” (from The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

All city library branches will close on March 13

“The Denver Public Library will close the entire system for one day in March for a giant staff meeting.”

“City Librarian Rick Ashton will gather 503 employees at an off-site location on March 13 to talk about issues ranging from the budget crisis to customer service and employee motivation training.”

“Customers can still drop off books at the 22 branch libraries or use online services. But none of the buildings will be open that day.” (from The Denver Post)

Cherchez The Search Advantage

Leslie Walker takes a look at the search engine biz over at The Washington Post.

She says There haven\’t been so many confusing takeovers since the Web portals went on pig-out binges in the 1990s. At that time, portals snapped up every start-up in sight in a manic attempt to amass content and visitors, while traditional media companies embarked on an equally manic hunt for portals to marry. Most of those takeovers came to naught. Now with Google, Yahoo, and Overture making similiar moves, she wonders what\’s next.

\”I don\’t think people understood the power of search in the early days,\” Berkowitz said. \”Partly that was because the technology was just bad. But if you look at most successful businesses on the Internet, search is their foundation. They use an algorithm to connect people with something they need online. Search didn\’t really meet those needs in the early days, but now it\’s getting better. Search, I think, is the foundation of the Internet.\”

Not a divine comedy

Jill O’Neill passed along This IT-Analysis Story on divine, who you probably know filed a petition to reorganise under Chapter 11 of the US bankruptcy rules on Tuesday.

They cover some history, and say that Rowecom had collected some $50m worth of subscriptions for magazines and other publications on behalf of a variety of publishers but had then used the money to pay off its own debts and to cover running costs rather than coughing up to the publishers.

I don’t know enough about this to make any judgements, but apparently the story missed some points, or made some mistakes.

Cuba Seizes U.S. Mission’s Book Shipment

“Works by Martin Luther King Jr., John Steinbeck and Groucho Marx were among 5,101 books seized by Cuban authorities after being shipped in by the U.S. government, America’s top diplomat in Havana said Thursday.”

“American diplomats were told it was a “firm decision by the government” not to allow the books into the communist-run country for distribution to dissident groups, including independent libraries, U.S. Interests Section Chief James Cason said.” (from AP)

LOA Launches American Poets Project

“To coincide with National Poetry Month, the Library of America, a nonprofit publisher of American classics, will launch the American Poets Project, a new series of books devoted to individual poets and anthologies exploring particular themes, genres, and eras. Edited by widely respected authors, the series will showcase the work of well-known poets along with those whose work has been neglected or whose popularity and reputations may be in decline, says Max Rudin, the Library of America’s publisher.” (from Poets and Writers)

Today’s Florida News

Pam Cooper is seeking at least 250 people Tuesday to help when she takes the fight to keep the Florida State Library in Tallahassee to the library headquarters itself.

Rob Thomson seems to be In Favour Of The Move, saying the lesson for future decision-makers is that it’s much easier to start new government programs than to end old ones.

Meanwhile… Jeb Bush’s plane was struck by lightning as it flew from Tallahassee to Orlando Thursday. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions on that one, what is god trying to say?

How Scientists Get Their News

Lee Hadden writes: “The Scientist did a survey to see how scientists keep up with the
news. For those libraries considering dropping their New York Times
subscription, 16% of scientists use that title to keep up with the latest
news. From the article:

“The Scientist surveyed 485 readers to find
out how they keep up with the
(nonscientific) news. More than 98% of
readers stay abreast of current events, and
more than 70% use three or more media. Most
popular is television news, with 71.1%
watching regularly, closely followed by news
Web sites (68.8%). Daily newspapers and
Sunday newspapers follow with 57.2% and
47.9%, respectively. About 2% admit to not
keeping up with the news. CNN is the
overwhelming favorite among the more than 70
TV channels mentioned–it is watched by 21%
of television viewers. By far the most
popular newspaper of the 148 mentioned is
The New York Times, read by 16% of newspaper

How do most librarians get their news?

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)

Big Brother is watching you – and documenting

Robin, from over at In My Book sent along This One on eBay, ever anxious to up profits, will bend over backward to provide data to law enforcement officials.
eBay says it has recorded and documented every iota of data that has come through the Web site since it first went online in 1995. Every time someone makes a bid, sells an item, writes about someone else, even when the company cancels a sale for whatever reason – it documents all of the pertinent information, and will give it away without a subpoena.

When someone uses our site and clicks on the `I Agree\’ button, it is as if he agrees to let us submit all of his data to the legal authorities. Which means that if you are a law-enforcement officer, all you have to do is send us a fax with a request for information, and ask about the person behind the seller\’s identity number, and we will provide you with his name, address, sales history and other details – all without having to produce a court order. We want law enforcement people to spend time on our site,\”