Saturday, February 24, 2007

"Higher Power of Lucky" not the first

I am a bit mortified by the hullabaloo over the "word" used in the 2007 Newbery winner, The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron. The book is in on order for our children's library and I am planning to read it.
To add some perspective to this tempest in a teapot is the list of books read by thousands of teens, tweens, that are already in our libraries. No nonsense titles such as Bless The Beasts And Children, by Glendon Swarthout and All Creatures Great and Small, by James Herriot. See the blog that has compiled this list for other titles. What do they have in common? All have the word "scrotum."

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

What is your library worth to you?

Libraries, like all tax supported entities, are under strict budgeting constraints like no other time in their history. Brooks is facing a less than level-funded budget for FY 2008.
Libraries are not just accepted any more as "public goods" that are funded automatically at the previous year's level. We need to show the value of our services and what these mean in payback for publicly funded institutions. According to some studies we are not only spending taxpayers' funds but are investing these and giving returns to the taxpayer.
Analyses by the University of South Carolina and most recently by the Vermont Department of Libraries have documented the Economic Value of Libraries. Now individuals can estimate this for themselves. The Maine State Library has a Library Use Value Calculator on their web site. With this calculator anyone can input books,audio,movies, magazines borrowed and meeting room time uses; computer time used; reference questions answered, etc. to come up with the value of these services. Try it out. You might be surprised by what your $8.80/month gets you. (This is the amount a homeowner in Brattleboro with a $200,000 home pays in property taxes each month for library service.)

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Listen to author talks? It's easy with OPAL

I am listening right now to a talk presented by Alaska mystery author, Dana Stabenow. Her talk was recorded by OPAL, the Online Programming for all Libraries, whose purpose is:

OPAL is an international collaborative effort by libraries of all types to provide web-based programs and training for library users and library staff members. These live events are held in online rooms where participants can interact via voice-over-IP, text chatting, and synchronized browsing. Everyone is welcome to participate in OPAL programs. Usually there is no need to register. Nearly all OPAL programs are offered free of charge to participants.

Go to the link above and click on archive. You will see a list of lectures and presentations done in libraries all over the US. You get the audio as well as the chat history of listeners of the talk.

You can also listen to these lectures in real-time by clicking on chronological list of all scheduled programs to see what is being offered. Here you can listen and comment while the lecture is being presented.

Again, the "good" Internet skrinks the world for all of us. Check it out!

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Baghdad Librarian

I have been wondering what life is like for an Iraqi librarian. Well, my curiosity was satisfied in the February 7th edition of the New York Times with an article about the diary kept by Saad Eskander, the director of Iraqi's National Library and Archive. The diary can be read on the British Museum's web site. It details the challenges of working in the middle of a war zone, except this one is filled with suicide bombers and kidnappers. Mr. Eskander's beginning entry for January 22-31 period reads like this:

At 11.30 a.m., intensive exchange of fire in the al-Fadhil area. Most of
the roads were closed. Our guards were re-deployed. One window was smashed as a result of the explosions. I was informed on the same day that two of our
technicians were kidnapped by unknown armed men in Al-Ghazaliya area.
Fortunately, both were realised unharmed, thought they were verbally abused. Mr. C, the head of the Restoration Laboratory, received a death threat. He and his
family left their house. I visited the Restoration Laboratory. It was hit by 5
bullets. Two windows were broken as a result. One of the restorers told me that
her brother was murdered ten days a go for sectarian reasons. Another restorer
told me that he cousin, who lived in Mosul, in northern Iraq, was also murdered
for sectarian reasons. I did not know about these two incidents. I discovered
that a number of my staff do not inform the administration about their ordeals
for fear of reprisals. I received more bad news about Miss D, an accountant. Her
father and brother were both injured after the terrorists opened fire on them.
The reason for it D 's father and brothers refused to leave their house, after
they received a death threat.

By reading this diary I am humbled: I do not have to risk my life to come to work every day. I hope Mr. Erscander can continue to do his job and hope that he makes it safely through the coming days.

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