Weeding Advice

bq.Sometimes librarians think a book that hasn’t been checked out in decades is seldom used. But many books are consulted in the stacks without being borrowed; if those books are not there, they will have to be obtained by more labor-intensive and costly methods. Most of my discoveries as a researcher come from the efficiency of being able to spend 10 seconds glancing at the contents of nearby books instead of having to make an elaborate and time-consuming plan to track down tangential leads. – “Thomas H. Benton(Stacks’ Appeal)”:http://chronicle.com/temp/reprint.php?id=0gixexfr1qnuloqnx6pvokmo3ek5o8np He makes a lot of other points as well, not all of which I agree with. But I thought this paragraph was the most important.

My Noisy Library

We just had a visitor tell us that our library was too noisy, that it was all the fault of the staff, that her library in South Carolina was much quieter, that she didn’t want to hear any more excuses, and she was writing a letter to the newspaper to complain. My first thought: If it were 1890, she would have a point. But seeing as how it isn’t…


Want to use cutting-edge technology to turn your library back into the silent abode of yesteryear? “Babble(Babble: a real cone of silence)”:http://www.lifehacker.com/software/productivity/babble-a-real-cone-of-silence-105487.php may be just what you are looking for. I can’t wait for the price to come down on this so I can try one out.

USB Drives @ Your Library

bq.I received a phone call from a neighboring library yesterday. The pleasant woman on the phone asked if we allow patrons to use flash drives on our computers. I replied in the positive, and asked why they prohibited this. Guess what she said? She said that there was no policy because she’d never heard of flash drives before. She didn’t think flash drives would be a good idea because they don’t even allow patrons to use floppy discs in their machines. – “Aaron(you do what?)”:http://www.walkingpaper.org/index.php?id=195 I think about this issue every now and then. The twelves computers we use for public stations here are all part of the Gates grant we received in 1999. We have tripled the ram and upgraded them to Windows 2000 and Office 2000. Each one has a DVD drive but they were shipped unplugged and we have left them that way. Originally, in order to deal with the storage issue, they came with “Super Drives(Whence the Floppy?)”:http://www.libraryplanet.com/2002/07/30/floppy. But those have log since been replaced with regular drives. For security, we use the “Public Access Computer Security Tool(Public Access Computer Security Tool)”:http://pacomputing.webjunction.org/do/DisplayContent?id=7593 . For time management, we use the “Public Access Management System(3M(tm) Public Access Management System)”:http://cms.3m.com/cms/US/en/2-115/ccluFFV/view.jhtml. For reliability, we then add “Deep Freeze(Deep Freeze)”:http://www.faronics.com/html/deepfreeze.asp. It may sound like a lot, but what we end up with a highly reliable station that we can depend upon to serve our patrons day in and day out. Over the first third of the year, per station we averaged 192 hours of use by 157 users in the course of a month. So you can see they get used quite a bit. Getting back to the issue of usb drives, we have two issues with that. First, the Gates software prohibits any drive from showing up in my computer. Second, these 20th Century era computers do have two usb ports, but they are located in the back and already in use by the mouse (I don’t think any of them still have ps/2 mice) and the PAMS card reader. So, it isn’t so much that we have a policy against it, it is that we are hesitant to tamper with the efficiency of our curent system to serve the needs of a very few. I have had a handful of people ever ask me about them, and most were disappointed but not terribly so. Prohibiting floppy drives is just plain silly. But supporting USB drives can be a stickier proposition. Making rules just to make rules, though, is not really serving your patrons.

National Library Week

It has begun and LisNews has some “resources(National Library Week)”:http://www.lisnews.com/article.pl?sid=05/04/10/1315216 to mark the occasion. If that isn’t enough, go read some more “news(National Library Week)”:http://news.google.com/news?q=National%20Library%20Week&hl=en&lr=&sa=N&tab=wn.

Making Judgments

I don’t always get around to reading American Libraries right when it arrives. After reading earlier about the later “Michael Gorman missives(Google at the Gates?)”:http://www.lisnews.com/article.pl?sid=05/03/08/1330209, I couldn’t resist breaking the shrinkwrap the first chance I got. What I haven’t seen mentioned was the attack on blogging in the editorial.
bq.Right now we all seem to be agog about blogs. Their fans would like us to believe that they are where the action is, but is keeping up with them worth the required hours of reading? The increasing number of reading opportunities vying for our time is frustrating, especially when it’s junk e-mail or blog blather that’s eating up your day. It’s not that we have much choice, it’s that we have too little critical judgement going on. – Leonard Kniffel, “The Pressure to Make No Judgments” He continues on some more but that paragraph pretty much summed it up. I can’t resist pointing out one irony, however. Unlike all the other magazines I get in the mail or the blogs I choose to read, I make no affirmative stance to get American Libraries. It is essentially a slickly published club newsletter. I guess it must be an interesting experience to write an editorial for a magazines whose subscribers are required to feel the pressure to make a judgment. Come to think of it, it must be sort of like blogging.

Upgrading Day

Our system is down today while we are upgrading today. This makes me very popular as I have a somewhat better grasp of the Dewey Decimal System than most of our staff. Of course, I also know how to cheat and check other online catalogs for the specific number when I am not sure. But don’t tell anybody.

Cellphone Jammers

If they weren’t “illegal(Black-market cellphone jammers selling fast)”:http://www.engadget.com/entry/1234000020032674/, I bet a lot of libraries would buy one. I know ours would. And that is really unfortunate. Update: I just had to ask someone to cut off their conversation. Nextel are the worst.

Open Stacks Podcast

I have been listening to a few podcasts the last few weeks (it beats anything on the radio these days). Several of them have been very informative. But the one I have enjoyed the most thus far is by Greg Schwartz of “Open Stacks(Open Stacks: Podcast Archives)”:http://openstacks.net/os/archives/cat_podcast.html. If you have a way to listen to one on the go, or can stand to sit in one place long enough to listen, go ahead and check it out.

Unsympathetic Aaron

As a long-time user of Lance Lavery’s “legendary product(Library Timer 2.0)”:http://www.libraryplanet.com/2001/08/timer, I had to laugh when I read what Aaron had to “say(Questionable Sympathy)”:http://www.aaronisnotamused.com/blog/index.php/archives/2004/05/20/203/. Maybe I should tell him about how well it works in combination with “RSHUT(Introduction in RSHUT Pro)”:http://www.rtsecurity.com/products/rshut/, which I have been using so long I still have the original freeware version. Or would that add to his unsympathy?