Category Archives: blogs

I Read It In The Newspaper

You would think that the largest library in a city would keep an archive of that city’s newspaper, right? And you would also probably expect the archive to be in a single format, like microfilm, or digital, or hard copy, right? Or at least have an index that includes all formats?

Welcome to the world of serials, where libraries, vendors, journalists and aggregators dance the money dance around the rights to publish and distribute back issues of a newspaper.  The Tasini decision in 2001 forced vendors to remove articles from their databases written by free-lance journalists who had not explicitly authorized republishing in digital format.  Add to that a publisher’s decision to grant exclusive content distribution rights to an aggregator you don’t subscribe to.  This may or may not affect issues published to-date, but certainly affects digital access to future articles in that newspaper.  It may even force you to buy the print edition, if one still exists, to provide your patrons with the newspaper’s content.

And what about microfilm? Reader/printers have become archaic, and many libraries are no longer purchasing – and no longer maintaining – their equipment. How will this affect access to the hundreds – maybe thousands – of microfilm reels in storage that contain images of your city’s newspaper back to its founding over 150 years ago?   Without equipment, who can read them?  One company is addressing the issue by producing a “digital microfilm” product, but it is unwieldy.  First the newspaper is filmed and microfilm reels created.  Then the reels are digitized and made available online.  Result? lag time almost double that of receiving the film – at one point, our local newspaper had a 5-month delay between publication and receipt of access to the digital files.

Add to the above, the issue of indexing.  The gap years between no index at all and the beginning of online indexing (1900 – 1984) are covered by an index created in-house by librarians who thumbed through the papers daily and included only articles about events in the city and county – no national or international news.  In 1984, the online index begins, which does include national and international news but does not include articles written by freelancers.   Other aggregators who index only some of the articles in said local newspaper – maybe only the business articles, or only a percent of articles published – seldom make this evident in product descriptions.  And of course, microfilm is not searchable at all, but relies on third-party indexes.

To maintain a 100% archive of your city’s newspaper, then, becomes a juggling act: how long do you keep the print? How much longer will your microfilm readers hold up? If one aggregator’s backfile of your paper is deeper than another’s, but the other included materials are vastly different, can you justify buying both or all? And when a newspaper publisher switches from one Image Edition vendor to another, causing your newspaper aggregator to lose access to the images … You may end up purchasing triple or quadruple access to that newspaper and have a patchwork of indexes that overlap in places and leave indexing gaps in other places.

Another wrinkle is the demand for obituaries.  As Americans age, the urge to record family history and find information about their antecedents grows stronger.  None of the online indexes covers classified ads, which is how obituaries are frequently treated.  However, image editions of the newspaper, which do include the classifieds, are searchable, but go back only 2 or three years.

As formats and technology change more and more quickly, and as our public learns to find information online, there is pressure to provide only a “convenient” archive of our local paper: the one that causes the fewest headaches.  If that becomes practice, we will lose an irreplaceable body of information – local information – that is not published anywhere else!

What’s the answer? We need to include in our mission the collection and retention of local history as published in our newspaper.  In particular, we need to preserve all the indexing that currently exists.  Pie in the sky would be to integrate all the indexes.  If  we fail to do this, in 20 years, local news before the 1990s may become unfindable, and that would be tragic.

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Reports of My Death …

From the Bloglines / Ask.com team to my in-box this evening:

“As you may have heard, Ask.com (http://ask.com/) has entered into an agreement with MerchantCircle (http://www.merchantcircle.com/) who has agreed to keep Bloglines up and running. Stay tuned over the coming months as MerchantCircle works to improve the Bloglines service by creating a richer and more local user experience.”

I love Bloglines!  I was pretty upset when they issued instructions to migrate my feeds to another reader.  I’m not a huge fan of Google Reader, but since I do have a Google Mail account, I moved my feeds there.  Now I find I needn’t have worried.  The execution of Bloglines is stayed!

Exploring iPhone

Discovered the WordPress iPhone app this evening and installed it. Now I’m testing it’s usability by writing this post. so far, I can do everything except read my published posts.

This time around for Library Day in the Life, I chose to Microblog just one day. Previous rounds became obsessive, and this is a busy time for me – can’t take that much time to record my days just now.

That’s because I need to learn about iPhones before I take a 3- week vacation far from my laptop! I’ve got apps for tweeting, blogging, skyping; for rewards cards, family history, productivity, and photo editing. I’ve got apps for my Couch to 5k workouts and for Weight Watchers. I owe iTunes my next paycheck.

After all this practice, I’ll be more than ready for librarydayinthelife round 5, when I’ll be prepared to iPost my iDay from mu iPhone!

Library Day in the Life, Round 4

I’m blogging today, because Tuesday is the first day of my work week. My shift today is from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

7 am Rise, wake up Daughter for school, make coffee, scan newspaper headlines.

7:40 Fire up laptop for 8 a.m. Info Quest Reference Advisory Group online meeting. Wave Daughter off to school and watch Husband eat breakfast.  Meeting lasts till 9 a.m.

9:15 Put away laptop, prepare and eat a bowl of cereal and raisins; prepare and pack lunch; generally tidy kitchen.

10:00 Get ready for work, feed fish, out the door. Husband chauffeurs on Tuesdays because there is no public transportation to my neighborhood after 6:15 p.m.

11:00 Catch up on e-mail, show off new iPhone, update bib for Credit Card Debt program to be held next week as part of the “Take Charge California” series sponsored by the library and the Department of Consumer Affairs. Boss only wants books published in 2009 or later, so I delete those published in 2008 from the lists that will be published on our web site and in our Delicious bookmarks.

12:00 An hour of cross-training at the circ desk – this is part of the prep for expanding the skills of the paraprofessionals and librarians who answer phones.  We want librarians to be able do do simple patron account maintenance, and the paraprofessionals to be able to answer simple informational questions.  I know virtually nothing about account maintenance, though I am a whiz at renewals and placing holds.  Today happens to be a special day – within 40 minutes of one patron reporting her card stolen, having it blocked and a new card issued to her, we caught the thief red-handed with a stack of books reserved with the stolen card! We confiscated the card and books, reported her to security, and she’s banned from the library for a year.  I didn’t stage it. Full marks to the Circ Supervisor for the way she handled it.

1:00 An hour on the phones. Questions cover the gamut from, “Are you open?” to “Can you read me a list of the kings from this Persian dynasty?” Here’s a colleague’s riff on phone duty.

2:00 Take 15 minutes to eat the lunch I packed. Update the table of branches, the tax forms they have for distribution and the tax prep help scheduled at some branches.  Tax season is a Big Deal here, and we get phone calls for four months from folks looking for forms or help.  Despite having links to the IRS and California state tax site on our OPAC and allowing free printing, people still want to walk in and pick something up from a table!

3:00 Drop in to Admin and pick up my February transit pass – it’s roadworker orange, instead Valentine red! Pick up holds that have arrived as part of my show-and-tell for next week’s Depart of Consumer Affairs program (mentioned above). Troubleshoot mysterious morphing of our NewsBank subscription to something unrecognizable, and without our local Sacramento Bee. Write numerous “yellow slips” (requests for time off the reference desk) for meetings I’ve been invited to in the next week and turn them in to the scheduler.

4:00 Dinner.  A colleague and I walk over to Quizno’s and have a soup and sandwich.

5:00 – 8:00 Three hours on the phones. After a flurry, the call volume drops and I have a few minutes to blog, take a short break to collect my stuff, and finish the evening.  At 7:55 the call router turns on the after-hours message, and we log off all the computers and go home. Hope husband is on time – it gets lonely out there by about 8:01!

Library Day in the Life – 2009

Today, Monday, is the second day of my weekend. My workweek starts at 11 a.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, and ends Saturday at 5 p.m.  I REELY tried to stay away from work today, but made the mistake of turning on the laptop while waiting for dinner to cook, and ended up checking my e-mail, Twitter, and Facebook accounts and sending a few work-related messages. This now requires me to make a note in my Franklin, or I will forget about the things I need to follow up.

Week 8: Publish to Blog From Zoho

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I’m writing this post in Zoho Writer. Specifically, I am trying the “post to your blog” feature. Although the WordPress post editor is functional, it looks as though Zoho brings more to the table in the formatting area, for example:

Inserting a table inserting today’s date emoticons kiss
Special characters  Ψ Ω Ý β find-and-replace editing undo button

There have been times when I’ve wanted to do more formatting than Blogger could handle, and this might be a good way to add some pizzaz to Blogger or WordPress posts.

Here goes …

Week 6: Technorati and Other Thoughts

As with Delicious, I had already created an account with Technorati over a year ago and “claimed” this Annot8tions blog, but I didn’t ever go back.  Tonight I was poking around and I found a new blog to follow: Across the Great Divide.  I read the Invisibility post and was hooked.  I claimed a couple more blogs just to complete the exercise, but I have no illusions about becoming a mover and shaker in the blog world.  My blogs are ranked way down there, and that’s ok with me.

As for the future of librarianship, I noticed that the suggested  OCLC article was published in 2006, generations ago in Internet Time.  However, there are timeless ideas embedded throughout, this being one of them:

No profession can survive if it throws its core principles and values overboard in response to every shift in the zeitgeist. However, it can be equally disastrous when a profession fails to acknowledge and adapt to radical, fundamental change in the marketplace it serves.

The key is to be keenly attuned to trends and to anticipate correctly which will work harmoniously with library core principles to make the library’s collections and expertise most accessible to its constituency.  Not easy.

I’ve believed for several years that the telephone (cell phones, to be more precise) will become the communication medium of choice between patrons and libraries.  Not just to renew items, get hours, or talk to someone, but also to use the catalog and databases, to place holds, to pay fines, and to share information with friends.  I believe what we should be doing is figuring out how to make our catalog and databases small-screen-friendly, and to offer services that work with cell phones.  This might be creating program feeds, providing text reference service, pushing bibliographies, texting call number info for individual titles or providing maps and driving directions. Cell phones are getting “smarter” every day; we should be looking for ways to exploit their capabilities.