June 2007

For library-opera house on U.S.-Canadian border, a new chapter

The skinny black line that runs along a hardwood floor in the Kenneth Baldwin International Reading room has taken on added significance this year as border officials contemplate a crackdown on three unguarded streets linking Derby Line and Stanstead, Quebec. What many here fear is that border authorities will close the book on an unspoken agreement under which locals can come and go from the library without reporting to customs, even if they cross the border en route.

Cites & Insights: Crawford at Large v.7, issue 8 (July 2007)

Cites & Insights: Crawford at Large v.7, issue 8 (July 2007) is now available for downloading.

The 26-page issue (PDF as usual, but essays other than My Back Pages are available in HTML form) includes:

  • Perspective: Pew Do You Trust? – “Pew Internet & American Life owes me an apology.”
  • ©1: Term and Extent – PermaCopyright and other extremes, including my Modest Proposal for permanent copyright for truly original works
  • Making it Work – Commentary on personal balance and library service balance.
  • Interesting & Peculiar Products – Six products (and product groups) and another six Editors’ Choices/Best Buy roundups.
  • Library Access to Scholarship – more of the “opposition literature” and notes about money.
  • My Back Pages – seven snarky little mini-essays, exclusive to whole-issue readers.

Two quick notes: This was all written before ALA Annual (but with some touchup work and copyfitting done this week)–and there’s nary a word about my own future plans.

Reviving faded history

Records vanish. They are stolen, lost, thrown away or simply stored out of sight and out of mind. They’re eaten by moths, dust, mold, insects and mice. In Georgia, the humidity turns improperly stored papers to mush. saw historical societies completely wiped out,” said David Carmicheal, director of the Georgia Archives, who visited Mississippi after the flood. “Those places will never really recover a sense of their history.”

But everyday disasters may do the most damage.

What is a living library?

Christine Ford (public relations director for the Monroe County Library NY says: “You may have heard lots of talk over the last decade or so about the relevance of a library. Since the mainstreaming of the Internet and the invention of Google, some ask why do we still need libraries. Well, the old library of the past, is in fact, on its way to becoming not so relevant. In today’s world, a library must evolve or go the way of the dinosaur.

A living library is something new and exciting.”

Book Clubs: Good, Bad or A Little of Both?

Are mass book groups the problem rather than the solution? Are Richard and Judy (England’s answer to Oprah’s Book Club) to blame?

According to the London Herald , “Some critics believe book clubs such as Richard and Judy’s are responsible for a homogenisation of our reading culture.”

The Herald reported that publishers “can no longer afford to take chances and authors who have enjoyed modest successes over many years are suddenly being dropped in favour of potential big hitters.”

Cathy Kinnear, manager of an independent bookstore in Glasgow, said, “The book clubs are not about giving people choice. They are actually narrowing it. We can offer recommendations that are targeted at our customers, bearing in mind local preferences rather than picking out a few books for the whole nation.”

How does the “one city one book” phenomenon play into this issue? How about the NEA’s Big Read? Are programs such as these limiting choices and preventing ‘smaller titles’ from being found?

Preserving Treasures of the Past

A team of archivists and preservationists is hard at work in Washington DC with librarians and museum personnel from around the country. Thanks to a grant from the non-profit Heritage Foundation and the IMLS, they are learning the how-to’s of preserving fragile, time and temperature-worn documents.

A recent survey, following the destruction evidenced by Hurricane Katrina, showed the following:

*More than half of the country’s 30,000 libraries, museums and archives have had articles that were damaged by moisture

*26 percent of collecting institutions have no environmental controls, including 40 percent of libraries.

*80 percent of collections have no disaster plan

More on the current summit from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Access North Georgia and WV Gazette.

PALINET and LibLime Partner to Offer Open Source Options

PALINET is aware that not all of members have the technical support or skills necessary to install or test the open source applications that are currently available. They’re looking at a number of ways to address this issue, but they’ve taken two initial steps already. First, a member Technology Caucus has begun regular discussions of open source software tools in monthly meetings. Yesterday, a group of library developers met at the PALINET offices in Philadelphia to install test copies of Koha and Evergreen for evaluation and comparison. They’re hoping to put together a couple of really clean, well integrated, model systems, which will demonstrate the kind of functionality that is possible with these open source ILS solutions.

They’re also just finalizing an agreement with LibLime, a leader in open source solutions for libraries, to offer discounted setup and support for the Koha Classic, and Koha Zoom ILS software.

Rock and Roll Shakes New Britain Public Library

Anonymous Patron writes “The New Britain Connecticut Public Library was the second stop for famous rock and band The High Strung. The “Detroit-based band that sounds like the Beatles with a funkier edge, played a 12-song, one-hour set to about 50 library patrons of all ages. The basement concert kicked off the library’s summer programming for teenagers.” ROck-N-Roll with it here.”