Florida Quality of Life

As I wrote about a few months ago, the State Legislature of Florida decided to force reductions of county budgets across the state. Our own county has reduced their budget by 3% from previous year. This has caused a great deal of discussion about which departments are essential and which are quality of life. At present, we are facing a 10% reduction. Other Florida Libraries are facing similar circumstances. * “Charlotte(County budget workshop meeting set for Monday)”:http://www.sun-herald.com/Newsstory.cfm?pubdate=072907&story=tp6ew2.htm&folder=NewsArchive2 – Laura Kleiss Hoeft, director of the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources department, said the tax reform is forcing different programs to face problematic issues of charging people to use their facilities, including libraries, public pools and even Englewood’s new skate park. * “Duval(Budget Cuts Take Bite Out Of Library Hours)”:http://www.news4jax.com/news/13648236/detail.html – In response to the 2007-2008 budget cuts, the library will cut nearly $3 million by reducing services and programs. The most noticeable change will be library hours. All branch libraries will be closed on Sundays with the exception of the Main Library downtown. Four regional libraries, two on the east/south side and two on the north/west side, will remain open on Sundays during the school year. On Mondays, the regional branches will close, leaving only the Main Library open. The branch libraries will operate Tuesday through Saturday. The cut also includes a $500,000 reduction for new books and materials, like DVDs and CDs. * “Hillsborough(Hillsborough County announces 2008 budget cuts)”:http://www.tampabays10.com/news/local/article.aspx?storyid=59663 – Even the Director of Libraries in Hillsborough County plans to start his workday putting books back on the shelves. As part of proposed budget cuts, most of the employees who restock books now, called pages, would be eliminated. Seven new park projects and seven new library projects are also being shelved for now. The Director of Libraries says it means people without libraries in the University and Sulpher Springs areas, will have to keep waiting. But Joe Stines hopes library users won’t notice the change. * “Miami-Dade(Dade proposes lowest tax rate since 1983)”:http://www.miamiherald.com/416/story/180934.html – In his proposed budget, Mayor Carlos Alvarez called for opening seven new libraries already under construction but canceling plans for four others because the county cannot afford to staff and operate them. * “Sarasota(Cuts, at a cost)”:http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20070729/NEWS/707290525 – In Sarasota, libraries could be among the hardest-hit services. Director Sarabeth Kalajian proposed a $12.9 million library budget for 2008, but leaders have suggested a 7 percent cut. The cut could eliminate four positions and trim library hours from 4721/2 to 440 per week. The loss of hours, which could cut six to eight hours per week from the North Sarasota Library, would lead to a loss of some of the programs libraries offer, such as art workshops and computer classes. There is one glimmer of hope… * “St. Lucie(Nonprofits to see same funding levels from St. Lucie)”:http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2007/jul/24/nonprofits-see-same-funding-levels-st-lucie/ – Commissioners decided last week to find funding in the budget so libraries in the county aren’t shuttered one day a week to save cash. Commissioners also shifted $8,000 back to the library’s budget to keep the Bookmobile operating during the summer. However, if the legislature is successful in getting the proposed tax changes that they are looking for next year, this will all be minor.

Awaiting the New Generation

I think there are some librarians that are a little too eager to abandon everything we have been doing for the last 130 years. But I also think we do need to be finding ways to move forward before we get left behind. There are still too far too many libraries that barely qualify as “1.0.”
bq.My bet is that a new generation of information specialists, probably just being born, will discover a Wild West world waiting for them, brimming with data and opinion over which they can impose some order and judgment. And the more traditional (by then) library mind-set will have a new lease on life with a new face and more modern trimmings. We won’t have lost anything in the meantime. The application openness and non-industry-specific standards and acceptance of user-provided data will stay with us, having changed the library landscape in significant and lasting ways.- “Candy Zemon(Web Applications and the ILS)”:http://www.polarislibrary.com/forums/blogs/techtidbits/archive/2007/07/18/Web-Applications-and-the-ILS.aspx I do hope, though, that I don’t have to wait until after I retire to see some of the things that should already be happening.

Not Competing with Blockbuster

bq.There are two related but distinct phenomena here. One is in-library gaming activities, including organized tournaments and open gaming time. The other is the circulation of games, gaming devices, and other gaming materials. The Ann Arbor District Library, which excels at gaming tournaments, does not circulate games. Eli Neiburger from the AADL, who also spoke during the first day of this symposium, does not want to put the library in direct competition with Blockbuster and other retail game rental businesses. Nicholson’s research found that only 20 percent of the libraries surveyed actually circulate games. – “Tom Peters(Oh The Games People Play Now–In Libraries)”:http://www.techsource.ala.org/blog/2007/07/oh-the-games-people-play-now-in-libraries.html We use to use the “not competing with Blockbuster” argument to not buy the latest big budget Hollywood films. We don’t anymore and I am not sure, in retrospect, why we ever thought that was a logical argument. And this “doesn’t seem to be(Hot DVDs)”:http://www.aadl.org/catalog/browse/tops?mat=g&disp=10 a universal policy at AADL, either.

Open Library

Remember all the discussions years ago about “Earth’s Largest Library(Building Earth’s Largest Library: Driving into the Future)”:http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/custom/portlets/recordDetails/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=EJ586397&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=eric_accno&accno=EJ586397?
bq.What if there was a library which held every book? Not every book on sale, or every important book, or even every book in English, but simply every book–a key part of our planet’s cultural legacy. First, the library must be on the Internet. No physical space could be as big or as universally accessible as a public web site. The site would be like Wikipedia–a public resource that anyone in any country could access and that others could rework into different formats. Second, it must be grandly comprehensive. It would take catalog entries from every library and publisher and random Internet user who is willing to donate them. It would link to places where each book could be bought, borrowed, or downloaded. It would collect reviews and references and discussions and every other piece of data about the book it could get its hands on. But most importantly, such a library must be fully open. Not simply “free to the people,” as the grand banner across the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh proclaims, but a product of the people: letting them create and curate its catalog, contribute to its content, participate in its governance, and have full, free access to its data. In an era where library data and Internet databases are being run by money-seeking companies behind closed doors, it’s more important than ever to be open. So let us do just that: let us build the Open Library. – “Open Library(About Us)”:http://demo.openlibrary.org/about This could be something to pay close attention to.

Orange County Charges

There are those who have some concerns about a new program being offer to libraries by the Orange County Library System.
bq.Why? It’s not because OCLS has launched their own webinar series for staff — OCLS really should indeed do this and share their successes, because they are seriously doing some awesome stuff with e-learning and online training. — but because in the greater spirit of collaboration and sharing among peers they are charging a hefty (at least for most smaller libraries) sum for it. – “Helene Blowers($75 for a session or $199 for the series … ???)”:http://www.librarybytes.com/2007/06/75-for-session-or-199-for-series.html Ordinarily, I would agree. But these days, I am having to deal with just the same sort of funding issues that Orange County is experiencing.
bq.Local governments across Central Florida are working to rebalance their books because of property tax cuts. On Tuesday, Orange County leaders will debate potential plans, although they have already said next year there will be no new construction of parks or fire stations. In many counties, including Orange County, some road-paving and road-widening plans would probably be delayed, including plans for commuter rail. – “Central Florida News(Orange County Debates Budget Cuts)”:http://www.cfnews13.com/News/Local/2007/6/26/orange_county_debates_budget_cuts.html Which, although isn’t mentioned in that article, is carrying over to the Library.
bq.How Will Property Tax Reform Affect Library Service? That’s a good question but impossible to answer since there is no way to predict the outcome of the upcoming special legislative session in June. Like other tax supported services throughout Florida, the Orange County Library System is uncertain whether or how it will be impacted by any changes in the property taxes. The Orange County Library System is primarily funded from property taxes, and 85% of the current year’s budget comes from this source. Further, the Library has limited options to raise significant revenues from other sources. Although the size of the reduction in tax revenues is unknown, we must prepare for a variety of possible scenarios and potential impacts that is very likely to result in a reduced budget for the Library. – “Mary Anne Hodel(Tax Reform Impact)”:http://www.ocls.info/impact.asp Do I think that it is a good thing for them to charge for this sort of program? No. Do I understand why they are? Yes. If you pay attention to Florida Libraries over the next few years and things don’t change, expect to see a lot more of this sort of thing.

Gravity Bookshelf

If you’re library is going to be doing something like “inventing a new shelving scheme(Dropping Dewey)”:http://www.libraryplanet.com/2007/06/03/dewey in order to seem, like, really cool, why not do something, likely, really radical and re-engineer your very shelves?
bq.The Gravity Bookshelf is a piece of furniture with a design that you’ll love or hate, but either way you can’t deny its inherent practicality. By bending the plywood shelves so they appear to be coming out of the floor, designer Leo Kempf ensured that any books (or, say, DVDs) that you put on it won’t fall over, with no need for any bookends. Kempf also designed the shelf to be easy to assemble, sliding the plywood shelves into slots on the hardwood main beam. – “Peter Pachal(Gravity Bookshelf uses one of the four fundamental forces)”:http://blog.scifi.com/tech/archives/2007/06/12/gravity_bookshe.html I am sure your patrons will be bubbling over with… appreciation.

Dropping Dewey

Is the Dewey Decimal System going the way of the dinosaur?
bq.When the new Gilbert library opens next month, it will be the first public library in the nation whose entire collection will be categorized without the Dewey Decimal Classification System, Maricopa County librarians say. Instead, tens of thousands of books in the Perry Branch library will be shelved by topic, similar to the way bookstores arrange books. The demise of the century-old Dewey Decimal system is overdue, county librarians say: It’s just too confusing for people to hunt down books using those long strings of numbers and letters. Dewey essentially arranges books by topic and assigns call numbers for each book. – “Yvonne Wingett(Gilbert library to be first to drop Dewey Decimal)”:http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/0530nodewey0530.html Some librarians certainly think so.
bq.Bookstores are far from perfect, but we have to remember that we are dealing with a public that has a certain level of expectations when it comes to dealing with a retail outlet (which is exactly what a public library is, like it or not!). We don’t have to fit each one of those expectations, but if it brings what we have to offer into the user’s comfort zone a little more, then why not? All I see that doing is increasing access and use in the long run. If, for some places like the Gilbert Library, that means letting go of old Dewey, then so be it. – “Emily Clasper”:http://libraryrevolution.com/2007/05/30/dewey-or-dont-we/ In my library, we encourage our patrons to use the public access catalog stations in order to locate a particular book. Some people use them easily and other require extra assistance which we are always happy to provide. It comes down to the fact that either the patron or a staff member will locate the work in question. To say that patrons can’t find things because of “long strings” is just silly to me. I would be the last to say that DDC is perfect. But it has worked pretty well for 131 years and survived numerous technological and cultural changes in the process. I certainly don’t feel that I have the ability to invent something better and really question anyone who thinks they can without a great deal of thought and effort. I fully expect it will not be too long before Gilbert announces their experiment has failed miserably and switches back.

Scare Tactics

bq.We’d be closing libraries. That’s what we’re talking about here. – “Carl Cool”:http://www.newssun.com/main.asp?SectionID=3&SubSectionID=3&ArticleID=2991 When I wrote about the “library funding(Florida Library Funding)”:http://www.libraryplanet.com/2007/04/20/florida last week, I had no thought that they could possibly get worse. But that is the reality if the plan by our new governor were to go into effect.
bq.Crist told residents that help would come this year and said warnings from local government that essential services would be cut were just “scare tactics.” Counties, he said, must spend more responsibly. – “Dianna Cahn(Palm Beach County told to brace for $75 million in budget cuts)”:http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/palmbeach/sfl-pbudget27apr27,0,4928209.story?coll=sfla-news-palm Of course, not everyone is going to agree with me.
bq.Dont fall for the scare tactics when the counties say services will collapse. They said the same thing in California for prop 13 and it didnt happen. In California, property taxes are based on a max of 1 percent of the assessed value. In Florida it is up to 2.8 percent. We should do the same. Most county spending is padded with top heavy pay for their consultants and high brass. Plus waste is epidemic. They need to tighten their belts like everyone else does facing leaner times. – “wacahootaman”:http://www.city-data.com/forum/florida/41500-crist-proposes-huge-tax-cut.html I guess I can hope that the Governor and his supporter are correct and everyone else is just engaged in scare tactics, but I am not quite as confident. Oh, and the first quote above, the one that refers to libraries… those are actually the libraries in which I just happen to work.

100 Million Ipods

What many would consider a good day for Apple…
bq.Generally, Apple has very little use for anniversaries. Recent milestones-like 2006’s 30th anniversary of the company’s founding, the Mac’s 20th anniversary in 2004, and the iPod’s fifth anniversary last fall-passed without much official to-do from the company. But when Apple sold its 100 millionth iPod recently, the company made sure not to let the occasion go by without comment. And for good reason, tech industry analysts say: “Obviously it’s a big threshold for Apple and industry,” said Tim Bajarin, president of high-tech consulting firm Creative Strategies. “This clearly reinforces Apple’s dominance in the market.” – “Jim Dalrymple(Analysis: iPod success won’t stop at 100 million)”:http://playlistmag.com/news/2007/04/09/ipodanalysis/index.php is perhaps a sad day for Libraries.
bq.I realize it isn’t 100% the fault of libraries, but it is a bit telling that libraries haven’t responded with more vigor to the ipod by attempting to integrate them into library services. If more libraries would have copied the homegrown ipod audiobook program of the South Huntington Public Library instead of throwing money at vendors for inferior (in some ways, and to be fair, better in a few ways) products, maybe this would have exerted pressure on vendors to work something out. – “Aaron Schmidt(sad walkman!)”:http://www.walkingpaper.org/415 I have written about this issue before several times: “what drm choices the vendors were making(PlaysforSure and Audio Books)”:http://www.libraryplanet.com/2005/02/07/playsforsure, “how Cory Doctorow felt about the Fairfax County Public Libraries choices(PlaysforSure @ Your Library)”:http://www.libraryplanet.com/2005/05/12/playsforsure, “whether Apple should license PlaysForSure(The DRM of SpiralFrog)”:http://www.libraryplanet.com/2006/09/14/spiralfrog, “how PlaysforSure was not compatible with the Zune(The DRM of Zune)”:http://www.libraryplanet.com/2006/09/15/zune, and “even whether it was likely that Microsoft would license either of their DRM technologies to Apple if asked(Interoperable DRM)”:http://www.libraryplanet.com/2007/02/08/interoperable. It would seem to me that the stumbling block is not the audiobook vendors themselves, but the publishers. Let’s face it, publishers (not all of them, but a lot of them) have hated Libraries for a long time because every time someone reads a book from us, that is one less sale. They would much rather sell books for iPods through Audible directly to consumers and cut libraries out of the equation entirely. I doubt many of them are very upset over this whole situation. In my system, we initially tried the NetLibrary/Recorded Books plan but found that the use didn’t match up with the cost. Now we are “using Overdrive as part of a consortial purchase(Audio Books)”:http://www.myhlc.org/audiobooks/ and supplementing that with a pretty good selection of “Playaways(Playaway Digital Audio Books)”:http://www.myhlc.org/2006/10/12/playaway-digital-audio-books. Personally, I think that when and if everyone realizes that DRM is not a solution, we will all benefit. But as long as too many business are desperately trying to protect business models they don’t even understand, we are going to just have to do the best we can.