Monthly Archives: May 2011

Is This Your 21st Century Library?

Like it or not, this appears to be the face of your 21st Century library. Maybe turning the library into something many librarians and customers don’t recognize is the other edge of the 21st Century double-edge sword. History has taught us that for every useful good thing humankind has discovered, humankind can also find some distorted application for it.

Company to make George Washington’s beer “George Washington is famous for many things. Yet it’s safe to say few know the nation’s founding father created a recipe for beer. The New York Public Library, which owns the recipe, announced on Wednesday that it was partnering with Coney Island Brewing Company in Brooklyn to recreate the brew.” Ula Ilnytzky

53,000 Signatures for Online Petition Against HarperCollins Library eBook Policy “Last month, New Jersey librarian Andy Woodworth launched an online petition entitled “Tell HarperCollins: Limited Checkouts on eBooks is Wrong for Libraries.” … Here’s more from the petition: “Limiting a book to 26 total checkouts means that it could be there one day and gone the next, leaving that 27th borrower in limbo as the library assesses whether to re-purchase the eBook. If left in place, this policy would threaten public access to eBooks by making them disappear from the virtual shelf.” Andy Woodworth

Leaflets keep flying; Redding library rules blocked for now “Civil libertarians leafleted the Redding library Wednesday afternoon, just hours after a Shasta County judge temporarily blocked city restrictions on pamphleteering around the building. … The city also prohibits harassment, windshield leafleting, donation solicitation and commercial advertising in the free speech zone under the policy, adopted April 18. Pamphleteers must reserve the space, and only one group at a time may use it.” Scott Mobley

Bike Sharing Comes to the Academic LibraryFirst came coffee, then gaming, and now bicycles. At Cornell University, a new student-run bike-sharing program has arrived just in time for spring. … The problem with offering great coffee, comfy chairs, and bicycle rentals to the library is not that these amenities are unwelcome — indeed, they are appreciated by most patrons. The problem is that they start diluting the brand of the academic library. And a dilution of the academic library brand may make it more difficult to justify hiring, retaining, and compensating highly trained academic staff.” Phil Davis

Obama aide: Bin Laden raid yielded ‘a library’ of terrorist info “President Obama’s national security adviser said today that analysts are poring over an “extraordinary” trove of terrorism intelligence gathered during last week’s raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan. “It turns out that this is the largest cache of information gotten from a senior terrorist, gotten from any terrorist in one operation,” adviser Tom Donilon said on CNN’s State of the Union. “It is about the size of a small college library.” David Jackson

Treasured Judaica Library, Feared Lost, Is Back On the Marke “One of the world’s largest and most valuable private Judaica libraries is up for sale, again. To the consternation of Judaeophiles and scholarly libraries around the world, public access to the Valmadonna Trust Library — or even knowledge of its whereabouts — was feared to have been lost last December, with the selection of an anonymous buyer in a sealed bid auction conducted by Sotheby’s.” Paul Berger

Banning Social Media in Libraries “A year ago, we began an experiment in social media. Using Twitter, we invited librarians to come together once a month to talk about the galleys they’ve been reading. Called GalleyChat, it gets more interesting each month and has become a useful RA and ordering tool. There’s one small snag, however; some librarians can’t join because they are not allowed to use Twitter or other social media at work.”

Santa Clara County Library system to begin $80 annual fee for non-residents “The best part about public libraries is they’re free. But starting July 1, thousands of South Bay residents will have to shell out $80 a year to check out books from libraries run by Santa Clara County. Library cards will remain free for people who live in the cities served by county libraries. But if you live in Los Gatos, Mountain View, Palo Alto, San Jose, Santa Clara or Sunnyvale, you’ll have to pay to get a county library card — or hope your own city library has enough Hemingway and Harry Potter. “Of course, people aren’t going to like this,” Santa Clara County Librarian Melinda Cervantes said. “It’s very complex. And it’s going to make a lot of people unhappy.” Lisa Fernandez

Not all change is progress!

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Top 10 Viewed Blog Posts

WordPress Blog host does an excellent job of tracking viewer data. For the past 16 months the data shows that the following are the Top 10 most viewed Posts. The topics of most interest to readers are extremely interesting to me, since my primary focus was on 21st Century Library issues and changes – I thought, and the Strategic Planning topics were somewhat generic – I thought.

I am also extremely interested in hearing from you readers – Why the disproportionate interest in these topics? What is it about Strategic Planning that attracts so much interest?

1. Customer Is The Purpose – 1,529

2. 21st Century Library Strategic Plan – Goals and Objectives – 1,095

3. 21st Century Library Strategic Plan – Forecast – 715

4. 21st Century Library Strategic Plan – Mission Statement – 690

5. Changes in Our Librarian Education for the 21st Century – 676

6. 21st Century Library Strategic Plan – Vision Statement – 596

7. 21st Century Skills, Libraries and Librarians – 593

8. 21st Century Skills & The Future of Libraries – 504

9. 21st Century Library Strategic Plan – Measures and Outcomes – 398

10. Your Library and 21st century skills or “21st Century Skills” – 341

Please let me know why these topics have attracted your interest.


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ALA Still Looking Back, Not Forward

Visit the ALA website and you’ll find the current issue, the Special Issue – ”The State of America’s Libraries, 2011”. It is apparently a “… report on the State of America’s Libraries, 2011… documented in a nationwide poll commissioned by the American Library Association (ALA) as part of a Harris Interactive telephone omnibus study conducted in January with a cross-section of 1,012 adults.” (Pg. ii)

Although it was announced in an ALA April 11 Press Release, it doesn’t seem to have received much buzz. It didn’t even get picked up by LISNews, as it was in previous years. Do an Internet search and the vast majority of references are ALA sites, with only five non-ALA cites. As usual, I have some thoughts on why.

Unfortunately, any nation-wide report on the “State of Libraries” that begins by admitting that only 1,012 adults were polled by telephone, begins on a disappointing chord. Of the almost 350 Million potential library users, how representative or accurate can responses from a thousand adults be? (See more survey and sampling technical discussion below.) Which says to me – nobody is taking the report seriously.

The second thing that stands out is that the survey data cited in this report is just more of the same.

Overall, the library’s most highly valued services pertain to the provision of free information and programs that promote education and lifelong learning. Ninety-one percent (up 5 percentage points from the previous year) place great value in the library’s provision of information for school and work.

And almost all Americans (93 percent) believe that it is important that library services are free.

What is surprising, useful or new about this data? What is the point? Seriously!

It reads very much like another Harris Omnibus Study survey for the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses that reports responses to similarly useless questions.

Harris Interactive conducted an omnibus study on behalf of Fleishman-Hillard.
A regionally representative sample of 1,039 Americans ages 18 or older were interviewed by telephone ….

Question: In your opinion, is it very important, somewhat important, not very important,
or not at all important for nurses who care for critically ill patients to regularly update their knowledge and skills through continuing education?

A remarkable 91% responded that it was Very Important! Seriously? Amazing! Overwhelmingly people actually prefer critical-care nurses to regularly update their knowledge and skills though continuing education. I’m stunned by the impact of this survey data! AND, “almost all Americans (93 percent) believe that it is important that library services are free.” Equally Amazing!

This latest ALA Report runs on and on with more of the same economic impact study results, horror stories about library funding cuts and closures, unexplainable data reporting librarian average salary increases, and on and on for 68 pages of more of the same DUH! information that ALA is known for producing.

More than two-thirds of adults responding to a January 2011 Harris Poll Quorum (PDF file) created for the American Library Association said that the library’s assistance in starting a business or finding a job was important to them. These figures were up from a year earlier, testament both to Americans’ entrepreneurial spirit and libraries’ role in nourishing that spirit.

Be sure to scan this ALA Report and the Harris Survey results linked above. It shows what ALA prefers not to report. Yes, 58% of those surveyed in 2011 said they owned a library card, but the 2010 survey results showed 62% had a library card – a decline of 4% – (or maybe that falls within the +/- 3% error). Is that 4% of the 1,012 survey respondents or 4% of the American population – 14 Million fewer library card holders? Which one is significant and really worth an ALA assessment of the impact?

The public library discussion began on Page 9, but not until Page 13 did the report address some contemporary issues – like librarian-less libraries, outsourcing library services to for-profit organizations – their conclusion was that both are bad ideas.

School libraries are addressed beginning on Page 16, and academic libraries on Page 22, and both get similar coverage and discussion of same ol’ same ol’ issues. Page 27 is interesting because it addresses that IMLS “organized a national campaign in 2010–2011 aimed at helping libraries, museums, and civic leaders assess and meet the learning needs of their communities and contribute to a shared vision for 21st-century learning.” In almost a full page about the IMLS initiative, ALA had nothing to say about being a part of this 21st Century initiative (I would think to their embarrassment). Hmmmm. Strategic Partnerships! Sound familiar?

Although to be fair, ALA has gotten into the technology issues of the 21st Century library (I guess) on Page 26.

The importance of these [technology] questions served as a major impetus for OITP [ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy] to create the Program on America’s Libraries for the 21st Century in 2008. Library experts and leaders are now exploring all aspects of the future of American libraries and developing recommendations for the library community and its stakeholders.

Anybody seen any results yet?

At least two pages are devoted to the eBook and recent publisher restrictions issues. News? No.
And, more digitization coverage. News? No.

Down on Page 49 the discussion of Intellectual Freedom begins four pages worth. Because? Obviously, that is still a major issue with ALA – freedom to read whatever you want to. That is well and good – if the very existence of libraries was not in jeopardy.

My apologies to readers, because I will admit that I was unable to “read” the entire report. It was simply too boring, useless and long. Hopefully I have addressed the major issues I have with this “State of American Libraries” report from ALA. I could find nothing of any value to help anybody save their library! As I first noted, it contains more of the same.

I for one think it’s far past time for ALA to begin looking forward instead of backward. The Report claims that “The Great Recession may have come to an end, but there’s no end to libraries’ key role in helping hard-pressed Americans find employment or launch a bootstraps venture. These and other key trends in the library community are detailed in this report on the State of America’s Libraries, 2011.” IF that is THE MOST important message ALA has for the profession, since it is the first sentence of the Executive Summary, it was a waste of reporting.

• There is CONSIDERABLE debate about whether the recession is really over.
• “[H]elping hard-pressed Americans find employment or launch a bootstraps venture” are key trends? These library service responses that have been being heralded for the past two years or more are key trends? SERIOUSLY?
• If the recession IS over, then there won’t be the vast number of “hard-pressed Americans” looking for employment, or needing the library to “launch a bootstraps venture” will there.

The demand for 20th Century library services is over if the economy has recovered. So, where does that leave libraries in this IMMEDIATE 21st Century future? Does ALA have any answers to that crucial question?

PS: On Page 67, the ALA Report lists a point of contact for feedback regarding this report, so I have sent him my feedback.
Mark Gould
Director, Public Information Office
American Library Association


Standard research practices project anywhere from 5% to at least 1% of the population to constitute a valid random sample. Bartlett, Kotrlik, & Higgins (2001, Pg. 48), provided Table 1, in their paper that shows a sample of at least 600 for a population of just 10,000, which translated to the US population would be 20Million people. Seems like somewhere between 1,000 and 20M would be a representative sample.

“The Harris Poll National Quorum is a cost-effective and timely tool that uses a cost sharing approach to enable several clients to use the same survey vehicle. Once a week we conduct telephone interviews with a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adult Americans at least 18 years old. You can add one question or a dozen or more and pay only for the custom questions you add.

Our clients use these results to track communications efforts, generate media headlines and attention, and assist in public policy decisions, among other uses.” Reads to me like Harris has the same 1,000 adults they survey every week about “whatever” to generate headlines.

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