December 2006

Closing Out the Year With More Bookstores Closing

From the New York Times, news of the final closure of the recently-reopened Coliseum Books in mid-town Manhattan; in Dallas the closing of the thirty-year old Black Images Book Bazarre; in Seattle Wessell & Lieberman Pioneer Square is closing; in Salem Oregon, Jacksons Books is closing; and to sum it up, Reuters gives us an overall review of the dismal situation of indie bookstores in the year past.

Maybe those of you who care about the demise of the indies (no need to pay attention Wal-Mart shoppers) can resolve to try to patronize the dwindling rank of remaining independent bookstores in 2007.

School Librarian Looks Back on Creation of an Archives on Blacks in Miami

The Black Archives, founded from the frustration of educator Dorothy Jenkins Fields over 32 years ago has expanded into a major repository of African-American history in South Florida.

It all began with a phone call.

Fields was a librarian in then all-white Myrtle Grove Elementary School and, in preparation for the nation’s Bicentennial celebration, she wanted to teach the children about black history. When she phoned a public librarian to request information, Fields learned all that was available was a folder containing obituaries. She never will forget the librarian’s words.

‘She told me, `I guess that those people didn’t think enough of themselves to write their history,’ ” Fields recalled.

The results of that call was Fields’ inspiration. Among the myriad of things the Archives has brought to light is the history of Miami’s once-thriving “ Overtown Area and the artists who performed at the Lyric Theater there during the era of racial segregation; Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie.

More from The Miami Herald.

Ford Library & Museum Expects More Visitors Now

The Grand Rapids NBC affiliate reports “Gerald R. Ford’s death is expected to spark renewed interest in his life, particularly among visitors to his uniquely situated presidential library that spans two cities 130 miles apart. The museum in Grand Rapids is about to enter the spotlight. Ford will be buried there on a hillside just north of the sleek, triangular building.

While Ford’s library is one entity officially known as the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum, its document archive is in Ann Arbor and is called the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library. Its artifact collection is in Grand Rapids and is called the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.”

The article goes on to discuss the problems with having the collection in two locations, and the relative costs of several popular, and less popular presidential libraries.

Help A Friend Find Key Dates in Library History

I’m passing along a request I read on my discussion board for Friends of the Library USA…John Gear writes to FOLUSA :

I’m with the Friends of Lansing Libraries (Lansing, MI).
We’re considering underwriting with our local NPR affiliate in return for acknowledgments. We can’t afford their regular rotation schedules, so I thought that maybe we could get some extra mileage out of fewer spots by placing them on key dates in library history, such as the day that Franklin’s library was founded in Philadelphia, etc. etc. etc.

Problem is, I’m having a hard time finding such a list. Does anyone have one or know of a good pointer to where I might find such a thing?

John Gear

Ten Stories that Shaped 2006

Another year, another recap! Read on for a look back at the good, the bad, and the ugly library stories of 2006.

Another year, another recap! Read on for a look back at the good, the bad, and the ugly library stories of 2006.

Honorable Mention

In case you missed it, the Cynthia Wilson interview about her “I am a Librarian” project was one of LISNews’ best features this year.

Dishonorable Mentions

If only there was just one! From people stealing maps and rare books to heckling, committing arson, and crashing a car into a library, libraries had their share of unfriendly visitors this year.

10. New UCLA Slogan: "Get Tasered @ your library"

Unless you were living under a rock last month, you probably heard that a troublemaking student was repeatedly tasered (by police) in a UCLA Library computer lab. After some administrative waffling, multiple investigations into the event are underway.

Of note is how and why this story broke: a YouTube video of the harrowing incident made it to the Digg front page. Who needs traditional media anyway?

9. Ding Dong, Gorman Tenure Ends

This June’s ALA presidential regime change constituted a shift from a cantankerous curmudgeon to a barefoot blogger. Just remember to vote Flynn Carsen in ’07.

Also, while not breaking an attendance record, the annual conference in embattled New Orleans seemed to be a success.

8. Library Weblog Explosion, Redux

Many bibliothekenbloggens launched this year. Entries of note include Library Juice, A Librarian’s Guide to Etiquette, and Typo of the Day. Even the venerable John Berry joined the blog people this fall.

To help with information overload, the custom search engines LISZEN and LibWorm recently debuted.

7. EPA Library Closure

Many were up in arms over the Bush administration’s shuttering of the Environmental Protection Agency’s library. This may become the subject of a politicized fight taken up by the Democrats.

Look for the location of the next presidential library to be unveiled early next year too.

6. Library 2.0 Meme

From despised buzzword to a popular topic in the literature, talk of L2 abounds. (And don’t worry, as LCSH makes room for FRBR and RDA, we’ll still have plenty of acronyms.)

While libraries struggle with how to renovate traditional library services with new technologies, the success of the for-profit social software LibraryThing and the growing slew of library wikis beckon for more libraries to innovate. After all, you have nothing to lose but your overpriced OPAC systems (oh and maybe privacy).

Bonus: Quote of the Year

Speaking about new technologies, Stephen Abram let loose that, "It’s a rare speech I don’t give where someone doesn’t come up to me afterwards and say, ‘I’m retiring in three years. It’s so good I don’t have to learn this stuff.’ I’d really wish they’d just leave our profession."

While the ALA trolls for ways retiring librarians can work for free, I certainly look forward to the day when technical expertise will not be shunned.

5. More Elephants in the Room

Remember when we used to say, "relax, it’s not like they’re going to start scanning whole libraries…"? Well, this year Google and Microsoft and Yahoo! all signed on more scanning partners. Like never before, there is tangible evidence that digital libraries are wave of the future.

2006 also saw the launch of Microsoft Live Academic, another open scholarly index, and Microsoft Live Book Search, another collection of digitized books. And while RLG, Ex Libris, and ProQuest found themselves involved in
mergers, that’s small potatoes compared to the paltry sum paid for of YouTube.

4. Censorship

Here’s a news flash: libraries and librarians face challenges to controversial materials.

This perennial entry has it all: the same old textbook battles and Harry Potter mania; the Muhammad Cartoons and MySpace concerns; collection bias allegations; the curious case of what to do with the O.J. book; and everyone’s favorite cause for moral panic, penguins.

3. ‘Net Neutrality

Many have said that the Internet became a success because the technology was far ahead of any legislative efforts to control it. But the frontier has been settled, and just as DRM and licensing restrictions are stifling our ability to share information, pro-business lobbyists are fighting for everything from content toll systems and e-mail delivery surcharges to bans on municipal wi-fi.

Enter the Network Neutrality movement, intended to save the Internet from such meddling practices and regulations. And so the battle begins. If there were such push polls and smear ads around when libraries were first created, however, would these issues have prevented them from getting off the ground?

2. P is for Privacy

In early 2006 the supposed "sunset" clauses of the USA PATRIOT Act were extended and then renewed (complete with a signing statement). Meanwhile, a group of "John Doe" librarians in Connecticut successfully challenged a National Security Letter demanding patron records and communications. There were also two cases of librarians getting in hot water for exercising their legal rights by refusing to deliver patron data without a subpoena.

Lest you think all librarians have a clue about privacy, in a bizarre footnote, a library in Florida found itself without volunteers after mandating urine drug tests for all workers.

1. The James Frey Fallout

Last year John Seigenthaler, Sr. instigated a reality check on Wikipedia’s truthiness. This year the other shoe dropped. An investigation into the Oprah Book Club pick A Million Little Pieces ended with James Frey’s tearful admission of fabricating his memoir and an almost unprecedented offer of refunds by the publisher.

Similar scandals involving "JT LeRoy", Kaavya Viswanathan, several journalists, and many scholars prompted publishers to remind readers that "fact checking is too costly". Food for thought when considering why wikis and other new kids on the block may be worth examining.

So, what was your most memorable story of the past year? Please share your remembrances below.

Billy Graham Opening His Library Next Spring, with Plans To Be Buried There

It’s not going to be like an amusement park, say spokesmen for the Rev. Billy Graham.

From the Wilmington Star: “It will be viewed every bit as seriously as any presidential library in America,” said Mark DeMoss, spokesman for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

The comments came last week in response to a report in The Washington Post suggesting that the family is feuding over where Billy Graham and his wife, Ruth, should be buried.

Patricia Cornwell, who is writing Ruth Graham’s biography, criticized the $25 million library and said the Grahams shouldn’t be buried there.

Carbon Neutral Conference Planned in Canada

Cabot writes “The Canadian Museums Association has taken an interesting approach with their conference next year in Ottawa. They have decided to present a carbon neutral conferences. “Approximately 42.5 tonnes of carbon will be released through travel, accommodations, and energy consumption related to the conference. To offset
these climate change causing-emissions, 934 trees will be planted according to
afforestation criteria, in spring 2007 across Canada.”

Visit their Web site for more information.”

Library video contest for Elgin (IL) residents

The folks at Gail Borden Public Library (Elgin, IL) have been posting videos on YouTube for a couple months. Now they’ve announced a video contest for patrons, called Storypalooza:

This January and February … we’re asking everybody in our library community to pick up their cameras and join the visual storytelling fun. People of all ages are invited to upload a 4-minute (or shorter) video to YouTube. Then send a link to us, for entry into one of two categories: “My Favorite Book” … or “Community Favorites” … . Videos can be funny, poignant, clever or cool, and they must be library-appropriate.

A bank is sponsoring prizes for Storypalooza. Local newspaper coverage here.