Showing posts from June, 2011

3M and the Douglas County Libraries

3M was one of the big hits of ALA -- an alternative to Overdrive. As it happens, DCL had a lot to do with this product, as in pretty much defining the goals, doing the mock-up of how it should work, getting it to directly integrate with our catalog, and more. Major kudos here to Monique Sendze, my Associate Director of Information Technology, and her staff.

I spoke with Eric Hellman at ALA about it, and he wrote a nice blog post here. He's a smart guy.

Jefferson County Public Libraries hosts 6 community meetings

JCPL Facing Closures: Learn More at Save Jeffco Libraries Community Meetings

(GOLDEN, Colo. – June 17, 2011, UPDATED June 21, 2011) Save Jeffco Libraries is hosting six community meetings to inform Jefferson County residents about the significant budgetary issues facing Jefferson County Public Library (JCPL) and the group’s efforts to form an independent library district.

“Over the past several years, the Jefferson County Commissioners have diverted $6 million in property taxes from JCPL’s dedicated mill levy to other County departments,” said former Library Board chair and Save Jeffco Libraries founder Tom Atkins. “Diversion of these funds has resulted in staff layoffs and Monday closures.”

“If JCPL remains a part of Jeffco government, things will only worsen. The 2012 Library budget will be $2 million short, and it is obvious when you look at the numbers that Jeffco residents will likely see some of our libraries close. As an independent library district, five-year projections look …

Back from ALA - the death of commercial publishing

On June 25, I was one of the panelists speaking at "The Future is Now! e-books and their increasing impact on library services." I made one deliberately provocative statement that woke up some people. I mentioned that my book, which retails for $40, earns me $4 with each sale. 10% is pretty good for a first time author. But somebody publishing an ebook on Amazon can sell it for $10, and make $7. I said, "The bullet has passed through the brain of commercial publishing. Now we're just waiting for the body to fall."

My point here is that the economic model of commercial publishing isn't so attractive anymore. The numbers show it.

I only had 12 minutes for my part of the panel, so as you can imagine, I have lots more to say about all this. Obviously, commercial publishing is still around. Patrons still ask for traditional content. Libraries have to find ways to get it. My library is working with Overdrive, 3M, and others.

My premise is that ebook and self-pub…

LaRue versus Colorado Board of Education

The ACLU website has the press release here. There have been other articles about it in the Denver Post, EdNewsColorado, and others.

There are a few facts I want to declare.

First, this is a private action, not a library action. My wife (Suzanne) and I are doing this as parents of a child at Douglas County High School. Although I am indeed the director of the Douglas County Libraries, this action and my employer are completely separate. Public servants do not sacrifice their rights to free speech and civic engagement. We are taxpayers who strongly disapprove of the rechanneling of public funds into private and religious institutions. I repeat: THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE DOUGLAS COUNTY LIBRARIES.

Second, why are we first on the list of plaintiffs (and there are many eminent plaintiffs, as you'll see in the complaint)? I don't really know. Perhaps because the name LaRue is so mellifluous. But when we agreed to be plaintiffs, we agreed to be a part of the public process.

Haiku: the Centipede Saga

Awhile back, I wrote a haiku about a centipede. It went like this:

towering cloud
dominates evening sky
and centipede

It happens that I'm part of a haiku email list with a couple of close friends, Sharon and Jeff. Sharon was tickled by it.

I was driving up to Windsor one day, which took a long time. Along the way, I turned on the radio, and NPR was doing a fundraising drive. So I got this idea. We should write 100 centipede haiku. It was kind of a matching haiku program. I imagined the call: "Send in ONE haiku, and we'll put another one right up against it!"

And because there wasn't much to listen to, I cranked out a bunch of them:

journey begins with
a single step - but which one?
centipede quandary

martial melody:
rhythm of centipede feet
drumming on window

for haiku chorale
just 96 centipedes
to go

first take a deep breath -
the centipede's ambition
to climb Mt. Evans

when centipedes sing
they have to stop walking and
hold perfectly still

stopping is jus…

Linux Mint and Xfce

I mentioned that I'd upgraded to Ubuntu 11.04. But I was irritated by the fact that it wouldn't display the right resolution: it did 1024x768 instead of 1280x1024. I messed around with the Monitors program, but couldn't get it to work. Eventually, in a fit of pique, I just wiped it all out with the latest Linux Mint. It's based on Ubuntu, but has all kinds of special applications.

The good news: in Mint, the Monitors program allowed me to reset the resolution for a session without much fuss. ANOTHER program allowed me to set it as a startup setting. Why it didn't work in Ubuntu, I have no idea.

But something about the Linux Mint Gnome setup just didn't feel right to me. So I downloaded the Xfce desktop. I like it. It seems much cleaner. I did have to mess with display settings yet again: Settings>Appearance>Fonts, then enable anti-aliasing, do slight hinting, and RGB pixel order.

That's a lot to go through just to get it to look good on a generic LCD…

Library standards - videos

The video here is my interview, arranged by the Colorado State Library's Shelley Walchak, talking about the new library standard of community engagement. This is just one of the series, but I was proud to be a part of this. Not only are the standards good in themselves, genuinely useful, but I like the video format as a way to introduce people to them.