Showing posts from August, 2008


I can't remember how I found Pentangle, but it was back in high school. Of course, like everything else, they're on Youtube. They are an odd and fuzzy bunch. But Jacqui has a voice that seems to know no bounds at all, the bass is extraordinary, and they manage to infuse an old-time English sensibility with some remarkable jazz jamming. I used to listen to these songs by the hour.

Cruel sister (with John Renbourne on guitar)

Hunting song - 13th century - listen to the round at the end

People on the highway

Train song - Rockin blues

Traveling song

Wedding Dress

Will the circle be unbroken - best version ever

A Day in the Park

I spent the day (10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.) volunteering at a booth for the Parker art festival. With me were a couple of other folks donating their time: local lawyer Jim Anest, and local restaurateur Stevan Strain, who also happens to be our current library board president. Both were articulate and passionate. Stevan is an extraordinary man.

I have several observations.

First, there is a big group of Parker residents who expressed shock that we lost last year. When told that only 34% showed up, they nodded grimly. "We need to make sure it wins this year." They talked about the trouble finding a parking spot. They talked about how long they had to wait for new materials. They talked about how important the library was to them and their children. One women said she had been sent to our booth BY her son -- who loved the library, who read all he could, who really questioned what kind of community he lived in that would vote AGAINST a library, who every time they drove past the spot wh…

Book "offending Muslims" withdrawn

Click the title for the news article. In brief, it describes the removal of a book from Serbian bookstores because the "Islamic Community in Serbia has deemed [it] offensive to Muslims..."

Also, "The Jewel of Medina was to be published in the United States last month, but the publisher there decided against selling the book, fearful of the reaction of radical Muslims."

Thank God, we don't have radical Christians in America.

Flame Warriors by Mike Reed

Click the title for the whole entertaining ride. Mr. Reed does a funny and masterful job of dissecting some of the more recurrent types who post on fora and blogs. I can't believe I hadn't run across this before.

"Predictably Irrational," by Dan Ariely

Here is yet another in the flood of books proving that most of the time we don't have a clue why we do what we do, and when asked, we consistently lie about it. Ariely is a lively writer, clearly deriving way more fun than you would expect from being a Professor of Behavioral Economics at MIT.

The subtitle is "the hidden forces that shape our decisions." Once again, we learn that people see, hear, and feel just about what they expect, and that "framing" often determines behavior. Example: take a group of Asian-American women about to take a math test. Divide them into two groups. Ask the first group what they think about a variety of gender related issues: the state of coed dorms, etc. Ask the second group to describe which language is spoken at home, family histories, etc. The first group, subtly reminded of the stereotype of women not being good at math, don't do as well as the second group, whose stereotype of academically high-performing Asians is reinf…

Priest ascends

This is a sad story. But a very strange story, with the most arresting lead I've ever read. Click the title of this entry to see what I mean.

Uncle Bobby's Wedding redux

This is not the longer posting (see here for that). But our library received yet another challenge to "Uncle Bobby's Wedding," apparently based on my earlier response.

First, this new patron stated her belief that the topic of a gay wedding is inappropriate because same sex marriage is illegal in 48 states, and specifically, in Colorado. Second, she claimed that she knows at least 100 people ready to fill out a petition against the book.

In response to the first point, I pointed out that we don't know where "Uncle Bobby's Wedding" takes place -- it could be in California or Massachusetts. It could be in Canada. It could be in a wholly fictitious universe with its own laws. Nonetheless, I wrote, "This principle would seem to require librarians to be familiar with all Colorado laws, and to read each work we purchase, or consider purchasing, to determine whether any of the characters might violate those laws [no matter where or when they live]. Thousan…

Douglas County – reading too much?

[OK, this is a joke. I've been thinking about running an ANTI-library funding campaign.]

Sports dad: "I thought the Internet was ok. It's kind of like TV, ya know? But I come home one day, and what do I find my son is up to? Reading! Books, hidden under his pillow! And after last summer, he went back to school and started off with good grades. I just ... don't know where we went wrong..."

Senior citizen wife: “I thought when my husband retired he would sit on the porch in a rocking chair. Like in those commercials, drinking lemonade, and sharing little jokes with me. But NOOOO. He's down at the library every day, attending meetings, lectures, programs, coming home with all of these projects and ideas. He's reading up on history and politics. He knows more people than ever. When do I get my husband back?”

Grumpy old Republican: “yes, yes, some thing else for the kids. Bah! When I was a youngster, I was in a gang, like any red-blooded American. Now, these pa…

Building a great community

Lately, I've been meeting with a lot of community groups, in the public information and feedback part of the library's planning process. I want to record a couple of things.

First, foremost, I am utterly impressed, even blown away, by my board, the Library Trustees. They are fiercely intelligent and passionate advocates for the library.

Second, but it's not just the library. Every one of them sees the library not as an end in itself, but as a sign of a community's interest in its own future. I sat today at an economic development council meeting where my board president, Stevan Strain, delivered yet another artful, articulate, and authentic call for the profound value of the library in the creation of a great city.

For me, here's the conundrum: there is strong community support in my county for some public institutions that I'm not sure always deserve it. I certainly give them props for securing that support. It's not rational. It's emotional.

But the libra…

Randy Newman "Harps and Angels"

After working through the weekend, I took a day off to hang out with wife and daughter (son's first day of high school, which is strange), fix the vacuum cleaner, mow the lawn, read a bit, and take a nap. Lovely.

While out and about, we stopped at the new Borders and I saw a display for Randy Newman's latest CD. So I bought it -- on sale for $14.

Man, I wish I could play piano like that. (I did play a bunch of Scott Joplin songs this morning, which was fun, but I'm only middlin' good.) Newman is not only a great shuffler, a great comedian both lyrically and musically (see "A few words in defense of our country," or "Potholes") but on occasion he can pull out songs so heartrending you can barely breathe. Examples: "Losing You," "Feels Like Home."

I think of Randy Newman as a kind of modern day Stephen Foster: intensely romantic, with a sweep of lush melody, and an eye that misses nothing.

Oh, and why not support the local economy, eh…

Reference Renaissance

I participated in a panel discussion at BCR's recent "Reference Renaissance" conference. Over 500 people attended -- indicating a keen interest in the topic. I sat on a panel and got 10 minutes to try to be "provocative." (Honest, I was supposed to.) My mindmap, a pdf, can be found here. I also put a link to it on my website.

I didn't attend the whole conference, but did get this sense: there was more talk about tools than about direction. On the one hand, that's reasonable for a professional gathering: people want to share what they've learned about new products and applications. But I didn't hear a strong, compelling vision for the future of reference services overall.

My own belief is that reference librarians are vital both to our profession and to our society. The direction of reference services in the years to come is all about community connections. It's not enough to sit behind a desk and wait for the questions to come. It's not en…

Paris Hilton for President

I know I'm not the first to find this. Paris Hilton came out with a major policy statement about energy use. Click the title of this entry.

I regret that I have not formed a comprehensive opinion about Ms. Hilton. We unsubscribed from cable television years ago, and I don't follow a lot of celebrity news. But this video struck me as pretty funny.

Activist lexicographers

I recently got an email from someone who hangs out at trianglefreeforum, a message board in the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill area, although it has people from all over. It's a lively place. In a "librarian from hell" thread I was upbraided for my use of a 1960 dictionary to respond to a patron complaint.

But just as there are accusations against "activist judges," there are also culture war complaints against activist lexicographers. Read the shocking story here.

Appreciative inquiry

Recently, my good friend Eloise May (director of the Arapahoe Library District) and I took a day to talk with the Board of Trustees of another Colorado library and engage in some strategic planning. Our agenda looked like this:

* Introductions.

* Trends. Eloise and I identified some of the big trends we're seeing in the public library world these days, among them merchandising, self-service, library as place, library as community asset, and the growing diversity of our clients/customers/patrons.

* Appreciative inquiry, stages one through three:

-- Values -- a second round of introductions that focused on what got the board members to the table in the first place. This helped some relative newcomers learn something about each other and begin to establish some common ground.

-- What do you do RIGHT? This is a so much better place to start than, for instance, "what's WRONG with us?" It helps identify strengths, assets, and real achievements. It begins to acknowledge and buil…