Showing posts from July, 2008

Next Generation ILS - and the power of failure

I just returned from BCR's conference called "Next Generation ILS: "Mashed Up, Fried, of Half-Baked," held in Boise, Idaho. (The conference title was a series of references, I later was told, to potatoes, which completely escaped me. On the other hand, I ate at a Basque restaurant one evening there [Leku Ona, on 6th and Grove], and the mashed potatoes were indeed superb.)

There were several speakers:

Marshall Breeding, Director for Innovative Technologies and Research, Jean and Alexander Heard Library, Vanderbilt University. He was good, too, providing an excellent overview of the marketplace today.
Karen Schneider, Community Librarian, Equinox. The always delightful Karen is now working as a remarkably clear-eyed proponent of open source solutions. She still does some of the best PowerPoint there is -- mostly humorous images and short phrases.
Matt Goldner, Executive Director of End User Services, OCLC. Like most of the folks at OCLC, Matt is frighteningly knowledg…

Library use: DCL growing faster than the US

Recently there was an article called "Library use grows, but varies by region; Utah among states at top." You can find it here. We compared our own statistics (where DCL=Douglas County Libraries) to those in the report.

Visits to DCL increased 65 percent between 2002 and 2006. Nationwide = 10%
Circulation, which measures how often library visitors check out print or electronic materials, increased at DCL 74 percent between 2002 and 2006. Nationwide = 9 percent
The number of Internet-capable computers increased from 42 to 95 or 126 percent between 2002 and 2006 at DCL. Nationwide = 38%
Circulation of children's materials is the highest in Colorado at 3,122,000 and is 48% of our circulation. That outstrips the 42% that is reported as the highest in the country -- Vermont.

Cool, huh?

Mindmapping: an alternative to Power Point

Some years ago I was speaking at the Computers in Libraries conference. One of the other speakers asked me to run his PowerPoint presentation as he spoke, and I noticed something fascinating. Before I turned off the lights, and started the presentation, people were interested and engaged. And the instant the lights went off, people's eyes glazed over and they SLUMPED. That's not a comment about the speaker, or even the slides. I learned that people are wired to attune to people -- that's why you go to conferences and talks.

So I don't do PowerPoint, usually. If I do, it usually involves cartoons.

But I have been playing with mindmaps. Many of us, most of us, are visual. And graphics can be a powerful way to illustrate points. Mindmaps are particularly good at something PowerPoint isn't: showing the interrelations of things.

I often use a freeware product called Freemind, which is a Java application, so runs in Windows, OSX and Linux. It's a great brainstorming too…

Douglas County Libraries wins an Emmy

I've just learned that we won an Emmy (full name: National Academy of Arts and Sciences Heartland Region Emmy Award) last night for our Public Service Announcement about libraries. I've blogged about the PSA before here.

Congratulations both to the Network DC (our Douglas County cable and Internet based television network), and my own staff (Katie Klosser, producer) for winning this prestigious award.

Incidentally, this isn't the first library piece to be so honored. Another library story, several years ago, was the first episode of "Lunchbreak." The host, Steve Capstick, picked me up in his pickup truck. He then interviewed me as we drove around town. The topic was censorship. That episode was submitted for an Emmy and won. I can now, truthfully, say that I'm "an Emmy award winning film actor." The film won the award, though, not me.

The library also played a role in "Kit Carson's Last Campfire," a historically-based musical (really!).


OCLC's From Awareness to Funding

OCLC's long-awaited report is available for download. Click on the link in the title above, and you can order the print copy, or download the pdf. This is a powerful bit of research.

DCL Mill Levy - FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about the Proposed Library Mill Levy Increase by the Douglas County Libraries in 2008 [note - this has been updated to reflect the revised proposal to be considered by the Douglas County Libraries Board of Trustees on August 21, 2008]

What is the library asking for?

A property tax increase of 1 (one) mill. 0.4 of that would pay for three new or replacement library buildings, and that part would go away or “sunset” after the buildings were paid off (about 15-20 years). The rest, less than one mill (0.6), would pay for operations (staff and materials, mainly), and would mark a permanent increase.

What does that mean for my taxes?

If your home is worth $100,000 (market value), you'll pay $7.96 more a year. If it's worth $200,000, then $15.92 a year. If $300,000, $23.88 a year.

Annually, the county assessor sends you a statement about the worth of your property.

The assessment rate for residential property is 7.96% (single family homes, mobile homes, condomi…

Uncle Bobby's Wedding

Recently, a library patron challenged (urged a reconsideration of the ownership or placement of) a book called "Uncle Bobby's Wedding." Honestly, I hadn't even heard of it until that complaint. But I did read the book, and responded to the patron, who challenged the item through email and requested that I respond online (not via snail-mail) about her concerns.

I suspect the book will get a lot of challenges in 2008-2009. So I offer my response, purging the patron's name, for other librarians.

Uncle Bobby's wedding
June 27, 2008

Dear Ms. Patron:

Thank you for working with my assistant to allow me to fit your concerns about “Uncle Bobby's Wedding,” by Sarah S. Brannen, into our “reconsideration” process. I have been assured that you have received and viewed our relevant policies: the Library Bill of Rights, the Freedom to Read, Free Access to Libraries for Minors, the Freedom to View, and our Reconsideration Policy.

The intent of providing all that isn'…

Turning 54

Just back from a 2-night trip up to Estes Park for my birthday. Thank you, Suzanne, for renting a cabin for a couple of nights in so beautiful a location (McGregor Mountain Lodge)!

I noticed with some interest that I never even touched anything electronic. No email. No Palm. No blogging. No cell phone (except to determine that no service was available, about which I was frankly delighted). I read a new book ("Lost Dorsai" by Gordon Dickson). I read an old book, one of my favorites -- "The Superlative Horse," by Jean Merrill. I wrote in my little Target travel journal, while sitting out on the porch of our cabin, listening to the thrumming of hummingbirds, watching the antics of chipmunks and marmots (one of whom sounded his barbaric yawp to me, ululating his diaphragm). I enjoyed our get-together with Claudine Perrault and her family for drinks (where we got to hear Claudine's daughter lead us in some camp chants). I enjoyed the company of my family. Suzanne and…

The Political Mind: tidbits

Just a couple of notes I know I'll want to keep track of from Lakoff's "The Political Mind:"

p. 40-41. "In the October 17, 2004, New York Times Magazine, Ron Suskind wrote of his encounter with an unnamed aide of George W. Bush: 'The aid said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." I nodded and murmured something about Enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now and when we act we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors ... and you, all of you, will be left to study what we do…

Spending my money to support causes I don't believe in

I'm reading "The Political Mind: Why You Can't Understand 21st-Century American Politics with an 18th-Century Brain," by George Lakoff. It fits in remarkably well with all the books I've been reading lately about brain research. I'll have more to write about this as I digest the book. (And I have to get it back -- it's due today, and others are waiting for it!)

But I've had a nagging thought that I wanted to capture. Lakoff frames American politics as a contest, at base, between the Strict Father model, and the Nurturant Parent. He calls the former conservative, and the latter progressive. There are also many people who are "biconceptual" -- whose views vary with the topic.

I guess that describes me. I refuse to let somebody else define my politics. Example: Suzanne read me an article yesterday over breakfast about an attempt to introduce a bill to forbid the use of union dues for politics. I found myself wondering: so, will there also be a bi…

Leading Generation Y

Pam Nissler gave me a fascinating Master's paper by Lieutenant Colonel Jill M. Newman of the United States Army. Click the title of this entry for a copy. The paper concerns defining, recruiting, and retaining a generation that prefers to call itself the Millennials. I liked this summary: what Newman calls Generation Y was "born between 1978 and 2000 and comprised of approximately 80 million people. They are the most parented and protected generation yet. Generation Y is highly confident, highly educated, techno-savvy, adept at global and diversity issues, team oriented and multi-taskers. They are also impatient, skeptical, blunt, expressive, and have grown up with a sense of entitlement."

The paper is insightful and useful reading for librarians.

Every generation has its own kind of intelligence. As the parent of two Millennials myself, I like this generation a lot, and see much to admire. But I'll make a prediction: if the problem of the Boomers is that we are so sel…