Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Enron Trial Blog

Two reporters from the Houston Chronicle have a blog where they detail the interesting goings on in the courtroom that don't make it into the newspaper.

NPR's "Morning Edition" features an interview with one of the blog's contributors, Mary Flood.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Library of the Future

I listened to a very interesting discussion today on NPR's "Talk of the Nation" that has become a familiar refrain for my colleagues and I.

With technology becoming an increasingly important part of our day to day lives, will brick and mortar libraries become a thing of the past? Will taxpayers continue to fund an institution that has outgrown its usefulness? After all, (say it with me my fellow librarians: "everything is online and I can find whatever I need by using Google") at some point in the future we won't need to go to the library to find the information we need and consequently (although no one on the program suggested this) we won't need librarians.

There were some positives that came out of the conversation. The future depends on libraries adapting in order to survive and one way they can do this is to stay ahead of the curve in terms of technology and trends. One thing that is abundantly clear is that libraries are here to stay, but they will be very different from what we have grown accustomed to.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


One of the featured sites put out this week by Librarians' Internet Index is Blogossary, an online dictionary for the words and phrases found throughout the blogosphere. Users can either search for terms or select one from the definitions list. The site is an ongoing project which is encouraging submissions of other terms for inclusion.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Wallace donates papers to University of Michigan

Romenesko reports that newsman and "60 Minutes" correspondent Mike Wallace has donated many of the materials from his illustrious career, including broadcast and interview footage, viewers' letters, newspaper clippings and photos to his alma mater, the University of Michigan. Wallace graduated from the school in 1939.

Library "incidents" continue to visit Columbus

Unfortunate incidents are continuing to occur in and around the libraries of Columbus, Ohio.

The first occurred today at a branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library. Emergency crews were summoned after a police officer had to resort to using mace to break up a fight between teenagers. The level of mace left in the air following the incident necessitated the library's evacuation.

The branch where this unfortunate incident occurred is located on East Livingston Avenue and is the same one that two weeks ago was rammed by three teens in a stolen car, seriously injuring the library manager.

The second "event" occurred just north of Columbus at the Upper Arlington Library when police officers arrested a man who was found to have downloaded child pornography using the library's computers. (Click on the video link to watch the scene that unfolded as cops made the arrest.)

If this keeps up much longer, I may have to start a separate blog just to keep up.

A catchy little tune

The Laughing Librarian is paying tribute to some of my fellow librarian bloggers with the aptly titled "The Blogga Song." But be warned, this is a tune that will get stuck in your head.

Thanks to Cyberspastic for sending me the link.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A Police Officer and a Librarian

I was fascinated by a brief article in the current issue of Information Outlook, the monthly magazine of the Special Libraries Association, which highlights the association's Government Information Division and includes an accompanying profile of one of its members, Tom Rink. (The article is restricted to SLA members.)

Rink, who is the current president of Oklahoma's SLA chapter, is perhaps the only librarian with the distinction of also being a police officer. Rink worked as an officer for the Tulsa Police Department for several years when he began contemplating a career change. He participated in a career exploration course at a local community college which ultimately told him that librarian was a career he was well suited for. This was an ironic result, since both of Rink's parents were librarians.

Rink pursued a master's degree in Library and Information Studies at the University of Oklahoma and after completing his degree, admits that he wasn't willing to take a significant pay cut that would come with the switch to a full-time librarian position.

A solution presented itself fifteen months after Rink became a librarian when the Sergeant of the department's Planning and Research Unit asked Rink to build a library for the department. It definitely hasn't always been an easy job, but Rink still seems amazed and thrilled to have been able to combine his two interests into a new career.

Because I was fascinated by Rink's story, I found two additional articles for your reading pleasure:

"Librarians -- on the cutting edge of the information age: the round-about story of the “Gun-Carrying” Librarian." (Rink talks at length about his involvement in the Special Libraries Association at both the state and national level and how it has added to his professional development.)

"An Officer and a Librarian--Tom Rink"

Podcast potential

The Virtual Chase points to this recent PC World article on the phenomenon known as podcasting. It provides an overview on the increasing popularity of podcasts, the challenges faced in searching for them and asks readers to submit the names of their favorite podcasts to

Who was the first president of the United States?

George Washington of course. Right? Not according to the Norwich Historical Society in Norwich, Connecticut. Its members contend the nation's first president was actually Samuel Huntington, who was a leader of the Continental Congress during the Revolutionary War. The society contends that Huntington and nine other men were president before the Constitution came to be. As such, the society wants to build President Huntington his own presidential library. NPR's "All Things Considered" reports.

Monday, February 20, 2006

"Enrique's Journey"

Los Angeles Times projects reporter Sonia Nazario spoke to Terry Gross today on NPR's "Fresh Air" about her new book "Enrique's Journey," which tells the story of a young Honduran boy who risked his life to travel to the United States in search of his mother.

Enrique's mother, Lourdes, left Enrique and his sister, Belky, in order to go to the United States. Her goal was to find work and either earn money to send back home to her children or enough to enable her to bring her children to live with her.

Nazario says that thousands of children, some as young as 7-years-old, travel to the U.S. each year in search of their families. Along the way, the children deal with a multitude of dangerous situations, including bandits, smugglers and corrupt immigration officials.

Enrique, whose mother left for America when he was 5, made it to the United States 11 years later, at the age of 16, on his seventh attempt. All he had of his mother was a North Carolina phone number.

The book had its beginnings in a series of articles Nazario wrote for the Los Angeles Times in 2003. Her efforts won her the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing and the photos from the series, shot by photographer Don Bartletti, won the Pulitzer for feature photography.

Mother and son went through some difficult times following their reunion. Enrique blames his mother for leaving him and begins to abuse drugs and alcohol. Lourdes feels guilty, wondering if things would have been different if she had remained with her children in Honduras. Eventually she tells Enrique that he needs to stop acting the way he is or he must get out of her home.

Enrique is now living in North Carolina near his mother and works as a house painter. He has a daughter of his own, Jasmin, who lives in Honduras. Host Terry Gross told Navario she was surprised that Enrique had left his own daughter back in Honduras, just as his mother had done.

Navario says that Enrique is determined not to make the same mistake he believes his mother made, that either he will return to Honduras or bring his daughter to live with him shortly. He contends he will never leave his child for several years as his mother did.

Navario tells a heartbreaking, yet fascinating story.

Additional library mayhem

Thanks to the creator of Cyberspastic Meanderings for passing along yet another tale of public library mayhem in Columbus, Ohio.

The latest incident involves 11-year-old Elijah Bell, who is charged with assaulting a 54-year-old security guard at the Franklinton branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library.

Elijah and his mother, Aleta, both contend that Elijah only got aggressive because the guard was manhandling him. Aleta Bell now says she is considering filing assault charges against the guard.

After reading the article, I think this kid needs his you know what kicked and that his mother needs to do a better job supervising her child.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Historical Statistics of the United States

As part of a series NPR has titled "The Story Behind the Number," today's "All Things Considered" speaks with Richard Sutch and Susan Carter, the editors of the new five volume "Historical Statistics of the United States."

The statistics were last updated in 1975 and this new set includes three times the number of data series in the previous version, as well as a number of new topic additions.

Abraham Lincoln Book Shop

I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm a full-fledged history geek who is particularly intrigued with all things presidential.

So I was quite interested to read an Associated Press article about the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop in Chicago. The store, founded in 1938, has 8,000 books (additional titles are in storage) about the United States' 16th President, along with photos, framed documents and other memorabilia on display.

The shop has been frequented by the likes of poet Carl Sandburg, filmmaker Ken Burns and writer and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, who bought several books at the shop which helped her in the writing of "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln."

I'll be heading back toward Chicago in September on my way home to Madison and will have to add a stop at the store on my to do list. I'll have to watch myself though, since I could easily lose myself for hours in a place like this.

An end to pledge drives

NPR's "Weekend Edition" looks at WCNY, the public television station in Syracuse, New York, and its attempts to do away with pledge drives. The station has purchased a for-profit T.V. production business that it hopes will generate enough revenue to eliminate the need for on-air fundraising.

The move isn't a done deal however. WCNY first wants to confirm that the money earned through the production business will be enough to keep the station solvent. So until that is confirmed, the pledge drives will continue.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Speaking my mind

Is this perfect or what?

Monday, February 13, 2006

Master of my domain

Following in the footsteps of a colleague, I have now dutifully registered my name as its own domain. (Catchy, isn't it?) What it means is that I now have the rights to "My name".com. For privacy issues, I'm not saying my full name here, but those of you who know me, which I believe all my faithful blog readers do, know what it is.

Sunday, February 12, 2006


A colleague told me about Twingine a while ago, but I kept forgetting to post about it. Enter your search term or terms and you receive side-by-side views of your results in Google and Yahoo!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Using video to promote print

Lost Remote points to a video preview on the home page of The Sacramento Bee's Web site promoting a series on sex offenders that will run in the paper's print edition on February 12th, 13th and 14th.

The preview, which may or may not be visible on the site depending on when you visit it, features two reporters who worked on the story providing a description of what the series will discuss, interspersed with photos of a number of the offenders.

In a comment posted to the Lost Remote entry, a man named Jim largely criticizes the effort and for the most part, I have to agree with him. I also didn't like the "talking heads" approach that was used and thought another format would have made me much more interested, engaged and eager to read the story in tomorrow's paper.

I do commend the paper for its initiative and think the idea of video and other multimedia promotions is a great one. I expect the style and formats used will evolve and improve as more papers embrace such changes.

Columbus' first guidebook

As much as it pains me to admit this, there is so much I want and need to learn about the city I now call home, Columbus, Ohio.

Having lived in or around the same city my entire life, it's been daunting to be in a new environment where I'm not familiar with the many stores, restaurants and neighborhoods. Add to that the fact that I'm the most directionally challenged person you're likely to meet (who is rotten at remembering street names to boot) and you'll begin to understand the challenges I've faced. Luckily, I have some kind and understanding colleagues who have patiently answered my many questions.

Now I also have another resource to turn to, a guidebook that is the first of its kind for Columbus.

It all started when author Shawnie M. Kelley went looking for a guidebook for a friend who was considering a move to Columbus and couldn't find one. She contacted Globe Pequot, the publisher of the Insiders' Guide Series, and suggested they find someone to write a book about Columbus and all it has to offer. It soon became clear that Kelley was the person who was best suited for the task. She has traveled extensively and lived in various places abroad and also teaches travel courses for a local lifelong learning program.

Kelley, who moved to Columbus in 1997, spent eight months researching the book and visited around 95% of the places she highlights within it. In other chapters dealing with topics she had no background in, such as child care, she interviewed experts and business owners about their experiences.

"When I first moved here, I could have used a guide like this," Kelley says. "I did include a lot of the traditional tourist stuff, but I wrote it from a relocation standpoint."

"Insiders' Guide to Columbus, Ohio," which is Kelley's first book, will be followed next month by her second, "It Happened on Cape Cod." She is also planning an "Insiders' Guide to Cleveland" and is busy compiling information for a second edition of the Columbus guidebook.

Kelley's friend ended up not moving to Columbus, but Kelley hopes the book will prove useful to others: "Hopefully, my explorations will benefit new people in town or people who have lived here already."

You can read more about Kelley and her book in two recent articles. The first, from a community newspaper in New Albany, Ohio and the second from today's The Columbus Dispatch.

More on MySpace

As a followup to my recent post about teens and online safety, here's an article from The Cincinnati Enquirer about the MySpace phenomenon. Discussed is the site's popularity among teens, the risks involved in divulging too much personal information and ways to continue using the site while staying safe.

I've been tagged!

Amanda was kind enough to tag me, so here are my answers to the "Four Things."

Four Jobs I’ve Had
Library Assistant

Four Movies I can watch over and over
All the President's Men
Manhattan Murder Mystery

Four Places I’ve Lived
Oregon, Wisconsin
Madison, Wisconsin
Columbus, Ohio
(That's all folks, sorry.)

Four TV Shows I Love to Watch
Law & Order (the original)
Nancy Grace
48 Hours Mystery

Four Places I've Been on Vacation
Orlando, Florida
South Dakota
Niagara Falls, Canada
Independence, Missouri

Four Websites I Visit Daily
The Columbus Dispatch
Wisconsin State Journal/The Capital Times

Four of My Favorite Foods
Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream
Garlic bread

Four Places I’d Rather Be
Madison, Wisconsin

Four People to Tag
Cyberspastic Meanderings
j's scratchpad
The Rogue Bitch

Some good news for a change

Unlike many news organizations that have been dealing with lost revenue and layoffs, National Public Radio has experienced growth within its news operation, adding 50 journalists to its staff and increasing the number of total employees to 400.

This growth is due in large part to the $200 million bequest that came from the estate of Joan Kroc in 2003. Kroc, the widow of McDonald's founder Ray Kroc, also left her local NPR station, KPBS in San Diego, $5 million.

Kroc's longtime consultant Dick Starmann explained the reasons behind the donation: "Mrs. Kroc always had what I call a thirst for the news, she loved the news and she had an unusual interest in what was going on in the United States and around the world."

Thanks to Romenesko for highlighting some good news for news.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Is the MLS degree necessary?

This is a topic I've talked about with several of my friends and colleagues and it's also been the subject of discussion in various articles and listserv postings.

My hometown's afternoon newspaper recently ran a column about the Madison Public Library and its hiring of two youth librarians who don't hold master's of library science degrees. (The degree acronym varies depending on the library school you attend; I hold a Master of Arts in Library and Information Studies.)

As expected, the hiring hasn't gone over well with some professional librarians.

"An MLS gives you a theoretical basis and the practical skills you need to be a librarian," says Mary Knapp, head of the professional librarians' union. "Librarians also are big champions of free speech, and you learn about that in library school."

Local librarians are also perplexed by the decision given the fact that the University of Wisconsin's Madison and Milwaukee campuses offer ALA-accredited library school programs and that many graduates wanting to stay in the area are fully qualified for either of the two positions. In fact, the lack of available professional librarian positions in Madison and the state of Wisconsin was the main reason I relocated to Ohio last fall.

"I have a concern because it sends a bad message to my students," says Louise Robbins, director of the UW-Madison School of Library and Information Studies. "We're encouraging them to get their MLS to get hired as librarians. If our students haven't been qualified, I need Barbara" (Barbara Dimick, Madison Public Library director) to tell me what's wrong, so we can add the right courses."

Freelance writer Mary Conroy offers her two viewpoints on the issue and encourages readers to contact her with their opinions.

"I'm of two minds on the issue. On the one hand, I rely heavily on Madison's librarians, not only for my work, but also for locating other information. Our library is one of Madison's most important resources, and we need to strengthen, not diminish it. We need to keep and attract qualified librarians, and not follow Philadelphia, whose mayor turned one-fourth of the city's libraries into express branches. Staffed by high school graduates, these branches are disparagingly referred to as "McBranches."

"On the other hand, our library should reflect the faces and backgrounds of its users. If the library management, which includes MLS-degree holders, is satisfied that the new candidates can perform their jobs well, why should they require the MLS of all candidates?"

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Editorial cartoonists speak about their craft

In light of the angry demonstrations and violence over the cartoon depiction of Muhammad, NPR's "Talk of the Nation" features a conversation with Pulitzer prize-winning editorial cartoonists Mike Luckovich of the Atlanta Journal Constitution and Ann Telnaes, whose syndicated work is available in a variety of the nation's daily newspapers, about their work, thoughts on the recent controversy and what lines, if any, they will or will not cross in their cartoons.

In a side note, Luckovich has a blog on the Journal Constitution's Web site where readers can vote on and post comments about his cartoons.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

A dangerous city for librarians?

Asked by my good friend Amanda when she heard about this incident via LISNews. Read on.

Library news made the front page of my local paper today. Problem was, it wasn't the kind of publicity a library or my fellow librarians were asking for.

A little after 4 p.m. yesterday, a car with three teenagers inside plowed into a branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, injuring the library manager. The "best" part though is that it wasn't an accident. One of the teens had just finished serving a one-week suspension from the branch after causing a disturbance last week and it appears that the crash was done in retaliation.

Wait a minute, the story gets better. The car that was used was stolen. Let's hope the police catch these idiots (and I know I'm being too kind) soon.

* Update: Right after making this post, I heard on the 11 p.m. news that two 15-year-old boys have been caught and that police are still looking for the third teen.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Editors weigh in on wiretapping

Anne Gordon of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Phil Casouse of The Albuquerque Tribune and Scott Gillespie of the Minneapolis Star Tribune discuss their respective readers' reactions to the wiretapping policies of the Bush administration on today's "All Things Considered" on NPR.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Teens and Internet safety

I was intrigued by a February 1st segment on NPR's "Talk of the Nation" which discussed the popularity among teenagers for Myspace.com and other social networking sites.

Myspace enables users to post profiles, journal entries and photos, create a virtual community of friends and to chat. You can post as much or as little as you want and the former is what is cause for concern. The general sentiment seems to be that teenagers are quite comfortable posting lots of personal details, making them vulnerable to Internet predators and causing concerns for their safety.

A colleague and I recently got into a discussion about this issue and she pointed me to the story of Kacie Woody.

Kacie, a 13-year-old who lived in Holland, Arkansas, frequented Internet chat rooms and had met two boys online who would eventually become her boyfriends. The first was Scott, a 14-year-old living in suburban Atlanta, and Dave, an 18-year-old from San Diego.

On the evening of December 3, 2002, Kacie was home alone. Her father Rick, a police officer, was working the night shift that would end at 2 a.m. and her older brother, Tim, was studying at the library. (Kacie's mother had been killed in a car accident when Kacie was 7). Kacie occupied herself chatting online with Scott, who was now her boyfriend. She also spent part of the evening speaking to Dave, who was now just a friend.

Scott and Kacie chatted most of the evening, but their conversation ended abruptly. Kacie's last message to Scott was at 9:41 p.m. Scott continued to message Kacie, but received no response. His messages grew increasingly desperate as he begged Kacie to let him know she was alright. He even called Kacie's home around 10:15, but received no answer.

Kacie's brother Tim arrived home a little after 11:30 and realized Kacie wasn't there. He called his father at 11:40 to let him know Kacie was missing. Law enforcement was notified and the search for Kacie began.

During the course of the investigation, police discovered that Dave, Kacie's online friend from San Diego, was actually a 47-year-old named David Fuller. Police discovered that Fuller had rented a minivan and were able to trace it to a local storage facility. When police arrived and opened the door to the rented locker, they heard a shot. Fuller had killed himself. Kacie was lying dead in the back of the minivan. She had been raped and shot in the head.

Cathy Frye, a staff writer with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, told Kacie's story in a four-part series that appeared in the paper in December 2003. The series, entitled "Caught in the Web," won the American Society of Newspaper Editors Award for nondeadline writing in 2004.

An Associated Press article dated today also speaks to the issue of teenagers and Internet safety. It discusses in particular the situation in Middletown, Connecticut, where police suspect that as many as seven girls have been assaulted by men they met on MySpace.

We have to find effective ways to caution teenagers about divulging personal information online. The American Library Association provides a list of helpful resources for doing so. We have to stop such tragic stories from happening again.

Love is in the air

How many times have you flown and been seated next to someone who is rude, obnoxious, snores (I'm sure the possibilities are endless) and couldn't wait for your flight to land so you would never have to see the person again? Wouldn't it be great if you could sit next to someone of your choosing you'd like to strike up a conversation, or more, with?

Airintroductions.com is exploring the possibilities. The service allows you to post a profile and search for people that will be on your flight who you would be interested in sitting next to. Contact is made through anonymous e-mail, at which point each person decides whether they would like to meet at the airport and get reassigned to adjoining seats. The cost (which kicks in once contact is made) is $5 per flight or $19.95 a month.

Another appealing option for people like me who enjoy reading or relaxing and don't really want to talk to people is to search for a like-minded individual who also doesn't want to talk. Call me cynical, but that's what I'm going for.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Improving Wikipedia

An article by Ray Grieselhuber posted today on the Web site of Online Journalism Review speaks to the issue of how and why we should work to make Wikipedia better.