Friday, December 29, 2006

Too much privacy ?!?

Okay, as a librarian, I've gone to the mat for privacy. I've stalked the halls of Congress, trying to educate Representatives as to why the PATRIOT act was a bad thing. I've argued with an attorney in the library of the House Judiciary Committee. I've been in a shouting match with my State Senator, when our Wisconsin legislature took away minor's rights to private library records.

But now our Wisconsin Attorney General, probably in an effort to be helpful, has declared that even librarians can't get help in enforcing our rules without a judge getting involved each and every time. In an Attorney General's opinion -- not as strong as case law, but citable as legal precedent -- we have learned that public libraries cannot get help from collection agencies to retrieve overdue library materials. Even if I know the name of someone whom we caught trying to steal library books, I can't give it to my City Attorney.

The key here is what librarians need to do in the performance of their duties, as opposed to what anyone else needs or wants to know about how third parties are using the library. How is the right to use the library compromised by being held responsible for breaking the law?

Our previous system worked well, but now it's illegal. Have I just found out how cops feel about Miranda?

Slow Library Movement

Ryan Deschamps, in Other Library, reports on a talk by Mark Leggott, about the "Slow Library Movement." It seems like a healthy perspective on the Library 2.0 movement. Mark's Slow Library blog is slowly developing. In commentary, Ryan writes:

'Here are some “Let’s” thoughts that may or may not apply to the Slow Library Movement”:
  • Let’s focus on realistic, local solutions and build community first.
  • Let’s forget about Web 2.0 for a second, understand our customers needs and then apply or give access to resources that help them satisfy those needs.
  • Let’s play.
  • Let’s shun pressure to “keep up” with Ann Arbor (sorry John Blyberg), Hennepin County (sorry Glenn Peterson via Tame the Web) and etc. and apply our own strengths to come up with our own creative ideas.
  • Let’s focus on what we can do right now to make the community a better place.
  • Let’s notice the beauty of things right before our eyes, and let supporting that be our Return on Investment.
...“the slow library” movement is basically Library 2.0 with a different name. The difference is language. But we shouldn’t underestimate the power of language in the change process.

One of the problems with “Library 2.0″ is that it is a response to another meme in the technology field (Web 2.0). Even though many have argued that Library 2.0 is more than technology, there’s still that *.0 metaphor there implying that the heart is technology.

“Slow Library” is another translation of library 2.0, but the heart is health, sustainability and empowerment. From that start we aren’t evaluating, trying or adopting Web technologies, but transforming Web technologies into effective and sustainable information services for the people who need them.'

"Libraries thrive, despite Internet"

Pete, in the WLA Blog writes:

In case you were wondering...

The Appleton Post-Crescent, in a nice article about the latest Department of Public Instruction library statistics, also reports that "Technology is no substitute for tangible sources." They interviewed Appleton Public Library director (and WLA past-president), Terry Dawson.

Budget Politics: big & small favors

Okay, we got our staff cut -- second year in a row...

We have said for years that one of our public library’s great strengths is the support we receive from the community. This support is expressed in many ways: library use, donations, volunteer hours and -- most directly -- via our budget. The establishment of any public budget is a fairly intense political process, and rightly so. It’s the mechanism which expresses the will of the people for what will be done by public servants with public moneys. This is certainly true for annual municipal budgets; in Appleton, our City budget is the source of nearly all library spending. All the donations and other support, though critical, are a very small percentage of what gets approved in the budget our Mayor develops and is then debated and voted on by the Common Council.

This is neither easy nor taken lightly by any of the parties. [more...]

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

New Tech du Jour

OK - this is an interesting development (at least it's new and interesting to me). Blogger makes it easy to post updates right from a cell phone. The ability to upload a photo or text message right from the phone makes blogging, particularly photo blogging much easier to do.

More importantly, this creates new possibilities for dynamic content and quick updating of websites and RSS feeds.

Another reason to love my Treo

Meeting Room

Here's the new meeting room setup. Michael looks proud of his skirts, which he ran out and purchased because the Housing Coalition was sponsoring a congressional candidate forum in our meeting room. We upgraded the room appearance to look a little nicer, and got compliments from the sponsors and candidates on our hospitality.

Two related questions arise. First, how and when does the library transition from being a room provider to an event co-sponsor? Second, given our growing role as a community center, what sort of intentional, non-last-minute things should we be doing with our meeting rooms? Upgraded sound system? Ceiling mounted projectors?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

In Memoriam -- Don Churchill

My earliest recollection of Don Churchill is at a City Council meeting in 1978. I was there as a fairly new librarian to try to understand library issues and local politics. Don and Berta Churchill were there as Co-Presidents of the Friends of the Appleton Library, to advocate for construction of a new library facility. It was the first of many times I would sit and discuss library issues with Berta and Don. During their presidency, FOAL led a successful referendum campaign for library construction, resulting in the dedication of the new building in 1981.

Don not only served as Co-President of FOAL, but headed both the Library Board of Trustees and the Appleton Library Foundation Board. In FOAL, Berta had a more visible role – the old FOAL scrapbooks have many pictures of Berta but few of Don, but he was there, staying involved and keeping things in perspective with his gentle humor. He went on to serve on the Library Board from 1983 to 1991. Berta followed him on the Board from 1991 to 1994. By then Don was serving on the Library Foundation Board, where he helped create the endowment fund and develop policies and priorities. Don took a leadership role in the Library Foundation’s efforts to secure the Library Plaza in 1996, working with the City and donors. He remained on the Foundation Board until 1999.

For over twenty years, Don was a leader in volunteering his time for the library. In his work with the Foundation, he was able to help the library realize some of the vision Berta had advocated on the Board and in FOAL, helping develop an active adult programming and community development component in library service. After Berta’s death in 2000, Don and his family donated the “Dancing Curves” sculpture that stands outside the library entrance in her memory. He remained a regular library visitor and Foundation supporter. Library staff and supporters, as well as many in the community, were saddened by Don's death this past June. We’ll miss Don as we do Berta, but the gifts they’ve given us will remain and touch lives in this community for many years to come.