At the Ref Desk (4/25/17): Someone calls but when I pick up the phone all I get is background noise -- people talking, etc. Did he or she just sit on their smartphone and dial out accidentally? Interesting jumping off point for a work of fiction... [more...]
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Public Libraries

Caption Needs Correcting

Submitted by Leo Klein on Wed, 6/4/14 (12:28pm)

Daily Herald article on lowering administrative costs by consolidating suburban libraries. As one local library director explains why voters in Fox River Grove turned down a proposal to consolidate libraries:

"They didn't want to lose control of their local library."

NYT Article: 'Libraries See Opening as Bookstores Close'

Submitted by Leo Klein on Thu, 12/27/12 (10:36pm)

Okay article I guess but is this news to anyone who's been in a library in the past 10-15 years?

"As librarians across the nation struggle with the task of redefining their roles and responsibilities in a digital age, many public libraries are seeing an opportunity to fill the void created by the loss of traditional bookstores.... Today’s libraries are reinventing themselves as vibrant town squares, showcasing the latest best sellers, lending Kindles loaded with e-books, and offering grassroots technology training centers."

What, no mention of DVDs? In any case, the original incentive was not to replace these 'traditional' bookstores but rather not to be replaced by them.

P.S. The term 'traditional' is a bit ironic since the 'big box' model of bookstores was a manifestation of the 1990s. "Traditional" for me means the mom-and-pop shops which existed before and (happily) after the rise and fall of the monoliths.

Either Libraries or Schools in Illinois, But Not Both

Submitted by Leo Klein on Tue, 2/16/10 (11:56am)

This doesn't sound encouraging:

But as Illinois' budget problems worsen, lawmakers will have to decide which programs are essential and must be funded and which are not as critical, said state Rep. Ed Sullivan, a Mundelein Republican. It could come down to funding schools or libraries, he said - not both. [Lissau, Russell. "State funding shortage may doom library systems", Daily Herald, 2/14/2010]

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NY Times: Traffic Up at Your Local Library

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sat, 3/14/09 (12:30pm)

It seems like only yesterday when libraries were reflecting on how they could survive in the face of stiff competition from bookstores and the like. What a difference an economic downturn makes (NY Times):

People are flocking to libraries after forsaking Barnes & Noble or ditching their HBO service and subscriptions to Netflix, library officials said, because libraries’ books, DVDs and CDs have a significant advantage: They are free.

PLAspace.org - Official Launch

Submitted by Leo Klein on Mon, 9/15/08 (1:47pm)

Okay, today was the official launch of the new community site that I've been working on for the Public Library Association: PLAspace.org

The announcement reads:

Today marks another milestone in the rollout of PLAspace. We officially open the doors to new CoPs and new participants.

We created PLAspace to give Public Library Association members a place where they could share ideas and work together on common interests. Today, the first official day for the site, we already have several dozen members and a half-dozen CoPs.

No Vacation for Klein

Submitted by Leo Klein on Fri, 8/1/08 (8:58am)

I wish I could say my lack of posting for the last week or so is because of me 'gone fishing'.

Instead, I'm working on a site for the Public Library Association that, happily, is close to completion.

The thing's looking good but it's taken all my free time away.

New Library Web Project

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sun, 5/25/08 (9:47pm)

I've got a neat job building a community site for one of the library organizations here. I'll talk more about it at our Drupal4Lib BoF in Anaheim but basically the idea is to promote online collaboration. Needless to say (for those in the know), I'll be making great use of Drupal's Organic Groups.

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Cart before Horse with Aquabrowser in Columbus

Submitted by Leo Klein on Thu, 1/24/08 (9:17am)

They recently installed the Aquabrowser at the Columbus Metropolitan Library (CML). This is how the head of IT over there explained it to the Columbus Dispatch:

"We're accommodating what people are used to seeing -- people who just want to plug in a search term and get their list." [h/t Lorcan Dempsey]

What people are "used to seeing"? That animated tag-cloud doohickey?

Unless they really do things differently in Columbus, I can't imagine anyone (other than library staff) ever seeing one of these things or knowing the least what to do with it.

I mean, you can almost predict that the color-coding of the whirlin', spinnin' topics will be totally lost on the average user. Equally as bewildering is why they bothered to include what suspiciously looks like instructions (instructions?) on the main search page that attempt to explain enigmatic terms such as "Search", "Discover" and "Refine".

Confused yet? The newspaper article quotes one user as calling it "distracting" while another thinks it may not be "as intuitive as they think it is".

Touchée. Like Second Life and the Kindle, we have the implementation of a technology that has yet to receive the "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval" from the public. In other words, there's no indication of widespread acceptance or adoption on the part of our users. This is precisely the wrong approach to take.

Lastly, it doesn't help that a keyword search on "Treasure Island" only turns up the book by Robert Louis Stevenson on Page 2 of the search results.

Maybe they were focusing on the wrong thing?

P.S. In contrast, check out the results for Google and Amazon.

Frank Rich and John Calloway at the Chicago Public Library

Submitted by Leo Klein on Mon, 10/29/07 (9:26pm)
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Not exactly the best shot of Frank Rich (left) being interviewed by John Galloway but I figured if I used my flash, they'd hussle me out of there.

Anyway the interview took place at the Harold Washington Center and was the final event in the city-wide "One Book, One Chicago Event" Program.

The book this year was The Crucible by Arthur Miller. Rich talked about the play (he never saw a great production), about his personal encounters with Arthur Miller (two interviews) and how this related to our post 9-11 world.

Needless to say, it was standing room only.

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