Wednesday, January 31, 2007

News Division Student Stipend Award

Each year, the News Division of the Special Libraries Association and ProQuest generously contribute $1,500 toward the Vormelker-Thomas Student Stipend Award, which is presented to a recent graduate or graduate student interested in pursuing a career in news librarianship. The money enables that student to attend their first Special Libraries Association conference, which is being held June 3-6, 2007 in Denver, Colorado.

This is a wonderful opportunity to attend some terrific sessions and to meet and network with your future colleagues.

I speak from experience. I am a past winner of this award, as are my good friends j and Emily Glenn, who received the award last year and is chairing the committee that will select this year's lucky winner.

Deadline is Friday, March 23, 2007.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Dolly's thoughts on what it takes to be a librarian

Dolly, one of the stars of Bill Keane's comic "Family Circus," thinks she knows what it takes to be a librarian. The comic isn't available online yet, so allow me to paraphrase (or take a peek inside the comics section of the daily newspaper). As Dolly and her brother Billy are walking out of the library, Dolly turns to him, her index finger raised to her lip and tells Billy "To be a librarian, all you have to learn is how to say "SHH!"

Of course that is one of the oldest stereotypes around about librarians, but I maintain my sense of humor about such things. It will interesting to learn the reactions of other librarians though. LISNews is the first I've seen to weigh in.

Online Journalism Review debuts the OJR Discussion Board

Today saw the launch of the Online Journalism Board's Discussion Board, a place "for questions and answers, news about new hires, new jobs and new features." The board will also offer a place to post job openings, "talk shop, and anything else that comes to mind."

A great idea, but one thing I'd love is a feed for the board. This will enable me and others interested in online journalism efforts to better keep up with new postings and responses.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Search for YouTube videos via Google Video

Thanks to Cyberspastic for passing along the news that you can now search for YouTube videos via Google Video.

Of Tattoos and Titles

Did you know that Archie McPhee, maker of the popular Librarian Action Figure and its successor, the Deluxe Librarian Action Figure (and yes, I own both) also offers temporary tattoos for your buying pleasure?

From the other side of the pond, a British politician has called for an abolishment of "librarian," saying "the concept of the librarian has to change and perhaps a start would be to abolish the title itself, with its connotations of middle-aged conservatism.”

As expected, calls like this demand a poll.

My choice? I confess it would have to Lustbrarian. I just can't help imaging the looks I'd get when I told people that. I'm so bad I know.

Thanks Em for sending me the links.

Readers get their say in San Francisco Chronicle podcasts

The San Francisco Chronicle has found a novel way of sharing the phone calls, letters and e-mails the paper receives: by offering podcasts of the more "interesting and unusual" responses in a new feature called "Correct Me If I'm Wrong." The first two calls concern some irate readers who are offended by a photo caption with the phrase "Pilotless Drone." Happy listening.

I wonder if the readers' reactions are as passionate when they find out their calls have been put online for all the world to hear.

Via Romenesko

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Citizens news at its best

Pegasus News is a very cool citizens news site in Dallas that enables users to browse headlines and events by neighborhood or they can customize news to "a tight radius around their home" by creating a user profile that includes their address.

The site will soon launch "The Daily You," a feature which will allow registered users to view a customized page based upon their reading habits on the site.

With thanks to John Robinson.

Where in the world will the Bush Presidential Library be?

An online petition has been started by a group of Methodist ministers who object to the George W. Bush Presidential Library being located on the campus of Southern Methodist University. The ministers say "that the linking of his presidency with a university bearing the Methodist name is utterly inappropriate."

Bush said today "that he was `leaning heavily toward SMU' and was close to a decision" about where to locate his library.

At a faculty meeting yesterday, University President R. Gerald Turner said the benefits of the library include "increasing the school's visibility nationwide and spurring economic development in the city."

A site selection committee is also considering placing the library at either Baylor University in Waco, Texas or at the University of Dallas. A final decision and a recommendation to the president will be made in a few months.

The Presidential Library system is comprised of eleven Presidential Libraries and the Nixon
Presidential Materials.

Philadelphia Inquirer goodbyes

Romenesko features the farewell letters Philadelphia Inquirer copy editors John Hall and Christine Ma wrote to their newsroom colleagues. The Inquirer recently announced that 68 newsroom employees are losing their jobs.

People who don't need people

Time Inc. announced today that it is closing the Austin (Texas), Chicago, Miami and Washington D.C. bureaus of its most profitable magazine, People. The move is part of Time's elimination of "nearly 300 jobs at its top magazines," which besides People includes Sports Illustrated and Fortune.

Staff at the soon to close bureaus were described as "shell-shocked" by the news, which is seen as a move by Time to "expand its branded properties on the Web, where the company sees its future."

Time's editor in chief John Huey says "the cuts do not mean that the company will sacrifice its journalistic integrity or that we are getting out of the print business." Rather "he hopes
that we will see many exciting developments and investments in our core titles in the coming year.”

(As read on Romenesko)

NY Times gives the dead "the last word"

If you went to The New York Times Web site today to read about the death of humorist Art Buchwald, you were greeted by Buchwald himself. "Hi, I'm Art Buchwald and I just died," he said.

This video obituary is part of a new feature the paper is offering to tell the stories of those who left us. "We've asked people how they want to be remembered and recorded their thoughts," says a man in the introductory portion of the Buchwald piece. "We're giving them and you the last word."

What a cool way of looking back on a person's life. I wonder what kinds of things I would make sure to mention when reflecting on my own life and which parts I would keep closely guarded and take to my grave with me.

World Almanac's "This Day in History"

Thanks to ResourceShelf for pointing out that The World Almanac has a blog which includes a "This Day in History" feature.

Procrastination and me

This post from Joey says it all.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Son tries to move forward after father's murder

Romenesko points to an Editor & Publisher interview with Daniel Rosenbaum, son of murdered New York Times reporter David Rosenbaum. The elder Rosenbaum was "attacked and beaten" only a few blocks from his Washington, D.C. home on January 6, 2006. He died less than two days later. Two men were eventually convicted in his death.

A year later, Daniel Rosenbaum, who is a photographer for The Washington Times, and his sister, Dorothy, are left to pick up the pieces. To compound their grief, they lost their mother, Virginia, to cancer in June 2006.

Daniel and his father were very close. " We would get together often, at least once a week and speak many times a week."

"It has been devastating to see the person you love most stolen away with no notice," he says.
"There will never be closure ... I don't know how I'll ever fully heal."

The only party Daniel's parents threw all year was on New Year's Eve and Daniel says "it was always something they looked forward to." Now he says that day is nothing more than "one more unfortunate milestone."

Providence paper yanks support for state spelling bee

In an apparent cost-cutting move, The Providence Journal has pulled its sponsorship of Rhode Island's Statewide Spelling Bee.

The decision has caused both anger and puzzlement in the paper's newsroom. Reporter and Providence Newspaper Guild president John Hill says he doesn't "see how you could have an event that is more connected to a newspaper’s mission, which is reading, and learning about the world, and expanding your vocabulary. These are things that you need to learn if you’re going to be a newspaper reader or a Web site reader.”

Thanks to Romenesko.

It's the Web stupid

Innovation in College Media recently interviewed Howard Owens, Director of Digital Publishing at Gatehouse Media. Gatehouse owns over 430 community publications located in 18 states.

Owens has some compelling ideas about newspapers and their online presence. He advocates "Web-first publishing," where the main goal is to "publish quickly and often everything you know that might be of interest to your audience." In addition, instead of taking what was in your print product and editing it for the Web, take the best online stories, flesh out the details and "print it."

Owens also maintains that journalists need to "think like bloggers. Write in an authentic voice, be real, be honest, be transparent." It is very important, Owens says, for student journalists to understand the importance of blogging. "I don’t think many people grasp how much we can learn from blogging about how the way people consume information is changing."

"Every student journalist should spend at least six months totally immersed in blogging. Start a blog and try to draw an audience. Do the things that bloggers need to do, read other blogs, create a blog roll, link to other blogs, post frequently on topics relevant to the audience you’re trying to reach (and read those blogs in that category), comment on other blogs. Learn to be a participant. That’s my advice to pro journalists, too: if you want to learn this culture, become a participant in it."

Finally, Owens touts the importance multimedia plays in "engaging an audience." He says to
"create video that is highly watchable, fun, authentic, interesting, well thought out to the context of how it’s being used."

Owens contends that "there hasn’t been a better time since the early part of the last century to be a journalist. I think these are exciting times, a chance to be at the vanguard of creating journalism for a new era, and in a far more competitive environment than most journalists have known over the past 30 to 50 years."

Thanks to Leonard Witt for the link.

Readers take a liking to newspaper blogs

Lost Remote reports that statistics released today by Nielsen//NetRatings show "that blog pages within the top 10 online newspapers drew around 3.8 million unique visitors last month–more than triple December 2005’s 1.2 million."

What's most interesting however is that at those same top 10 newspapers, total online readership grew "by 9%, from 27.3 million in December 2005 to 29.9 million last month."

Other findings include that the number of people who read newspapers online and also read a paper's blogs grew from about 4% at the end of 2005 to about 12% at the conclusion of 2006. In addition, blogs tend to be read much more heavily by men, who made up 66% of total readers.

Monday, January 15, 2007

NY Times Oscars blog

New York Times culture reporter and media columnist David Carr writes about the addictive qualities of his blog, sentiments that I must admit are all too familiar to me.

Carr writes "The Carpetbagger," a blog dealing with all things Oscar, as in awards.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Boston Globe buyouts and outsourcing

Romenesko reports that the Boston Globe is the latest newspaper to announce it will be eliminating newsroom staff.

The New York Times Company, parent company for the Globe and its sister paper, the Worchester Telegram & Gazette, plans to cut 125 positions, 19 of which will be at the Globe.

The cuts will be achieved through voluntary buyouts and outsourcing.

Bloggers receive two seats at Libby Trial

The trial of Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, begins next week and for the first time in a federal court, bloggers will have two of the 100 seats set aside for the media.

The seats are the result of two years of negotiations with judicial officials throughout the country by the Media Bloggers Association, a "nonpartisan organization dedicated to promoting, protecting and educating its members; supporting the development of `blogging' or `citizen journalism' as a distinct form of media; and helping to extend the power of the press, with all the rights and responsibilities that entails, to every citizen."

With thanks to Romenesko.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Wisconsin librarian faces drug, weapons charges

A public school librarian in Milwaukee, Wisconsin was in federal court today, facing accusations of running a crack house and buying a gun for her boyfriend, a convicted felon.

The indictment alleges that Elena D. Scott rented a home "`for the purpose of manufacturing and distributing cocaine,'" crack cocaine and marijuana."

It also alleges that Scott lied on a form relating to a gun purchase, stating it was for her when in fact it was for her boyfriend.

Scott was arrested yesterday evening and released this afternoon. As part of a signature bond, she must submit to random drug tests. She faces a maximum of 40 years in prison and $750,000 in fines if convicted on all charges.

New column looks at news sites and Web design

Online Journalism Review has launched a new column written by Nora Paul and Laura Ruel which "will examine current research on news website user interfaces and storytelling techniques."

The goal of the column is to "help news site producers and editors pick the best ways to package their information to increase their site's traffic and influence."

Scripps considers unloading its newspaper business

Romenesko points to this Editor & Publisher article which discusses the talk that Scripps is looking into separating newspapers from its other business interests.

At present the newspaper division makes up "roughly 29% of the company's revenue," with its
network business comprising 42% and interactive properties 12%. Getting rid of newspapers, estimates Goldman Sachs analyst Peter Appert, could mean a growth in earnings for Scripps' "new media" businesses, which could potentially grow to 82% of the company's total revenue.

Scripps owns daily and community papers in California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, New Mexico, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Washington.

"cRANKy" for the over 50 crowd

A recent addition to the search engine world is cRANKy, (I give it points for the clever spelling), which processes each search request it receives "from the perspective of someone who is at least 50 years old."

Jeff Taylor, whose name you might recognize as the founder of, created cRANKy because of his belief that people over 50 are frequently overwhelmed by the number of search results they receive when using more well-known search engines such as Google and Yahoo!
"Our research found that people 50 and over are confused about searching on the Web," says Taylor. "It's hard for them to understand all the results." Taylor also runs Eons, a company that creates products catered to baby boomers.

In response to a search request, cRANKy only displays four results in the non-advertising section of the page, whereas Google and Yahoo! typically show 10 or more results.

cRANKy's birth began when it partnered with the Internet research firm Compete Inc. with the goal of identifying "the 500,000 most popular Web sites among people at least 45 years old." The top 5,000 were critiqued by reviewers, who then wrote a synopsis of each site's content and "tried to ensure the index contained more direct links to the most meaningful information."

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Google Talk

I've been experimenting with Google Talk and have been impressed with how easy it is to use and the sound quality.

To use Google Talk, you first need a Gmail account. Gmail accounts can only be had through an invite from a current user, which I am, so if you'd like to play with Google Talk, ask me for a Gmail invite and I'll be happy to oblige.

You can read more about Google Talk in this article from the May 2006 issue of Smart Computing.

Want to use the library? Then behave!

My hometown of Madison, Wisconsin is the latest to propose a policy for dealing with minors who fail to behave while visiting the city's public library branches.

The policy seeks to "prohibit behavior that is disruptive, inappropriate or dangerous to self or others."

If a child violates the policy, his parent(s) will be called. If they can't be reached, the library staff will contact the police. Children under 7 will not be allowed in the library unless they are accompanied by an adult or older child.

"It's not that children - even on their own - are not welcome at the library," says Madison Public Library Director Barbara Dimick. "They just need to behave while they are there."

Toyota owners get connected

Search Engine Watch reports that Toyota has redesigned its Web site for its hybrid vehicle owners. Owners can create a searchable profile that includes information such as age group, car color and reasons for owing a hybrid.

Live Chat from FirstGov, New Public Records Blog

Some great new items courtesy of The Virtual Chase.

FirstGov, the portal for U.S. government information, now offers live chat to users.

BRB's latest offering is a Public Records Blog, which provides information on locating public records, points to new laws and changes to existing ones and discusses new and relevant databases.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Increasing diversity among librarians

The Washington Post ran an article today on efforts to increase recruitment of people of color to librarianship. Featured are two University of Alabama students, Deborah Lilton and Meiyolet Mendez, who are pursuing careers in academic librarianship.

Getting to know you

In response to Amanda, who tagged me to list five things people don't know about me. I found this difficult, since my close friends will probably know these things, but maybe I'll manage to surprise a few of you.

1. I love gorillas.
I can't remember exactly when it was when I became fascinated by these beautiful animals, but the first gorilla I came to love was the Milwaukee County Zoo's most famous resident, Samson. I remember my parents taking my brother, sister and I to visit the zoo many times and the only animal I ever cared about seeing was Samson. He died in 1981, but remains the zoo's most popular animal, as witnessed by an exhibit which is currently at the Milwaukee Public Museum. My dream trip would be a visit to Rwanda to visit the mountain gorillas.

2. My childhood career goal was to be a pediatrician.
At some point I realized how much school this would entail and coupled with the fact that while I like children, I don't have the patience to deal with them all day long, those plans quickly fell by the wayside.

3. I came very close to giving up librarianship.
I had been searching for a position for six months and it just wasn't happening for me. I was depressed and frustrated. When I was contacted about interviewing for my present position, I told a few people this was my last shot and that if I didn't get the job, I was giving up. Fortunately, I overcame those thoughts and even better, I got the job.

4. I have a bad ankle that gives out with no warning.
I can't remember how I injured it, but occasionally it will give out and I'll lose my footing. I haven't fallen .. at least not yet.

5. I love wandering around old cemeteries.
I know some people think this is weird, but to me cemeteries are filled with history. I find walking around and reading the headstones to be very peaceful and interesting.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

President Ford burial rant

I've heard and read about President Ford being laid to rest today on the grounds of his Presidential Library and Museum (other reports have said Presidential Library) in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

In truth, Ford was buried on the grounds of his Presidential Museum. Ford's Presidential Library and Presidential Museum are unique in that they are located in separate cities.
The museum is located in Grand Rapids, while the library is located on the campus of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Despite having two locations, the library and museum are considered a single institution and are managed by a single director.

I've been mildly annoyed seeing wire stories in the paper and various radio and Web reports reporting that both institutions are in Grand Rapids or that the library is located there. How difficult would this have been to check? Sounds like a librarian was needed on this one.

And yes, geek that I am, I did visit the museum when I attended a professional conference in Grand Rapids in fall 2003.

The ax falls in Philly

As expected, The Philadelphia Inquirer has announced that 68 newsroom employees will lose their jobs as part of a cost-cutting move.

A Belated Happy New Year

I've been remiss in wishing everyone a Happy New Year. I just returned Monday from 12 wonderful days at home in Madison. I didn't go out as much this time, but I did of course make time for a trip to Paisan's with Pam.

The weather was not at all typical for a Wisconsin winter. The last Friday I was in town the sun was shining and it was in the upper 40s, absolutely beautiful.

I'm happy to report no major problems with air travel on the way there or back. My greatest fear was that I was going to spend New Year's Day sitting around in the airport and I'm happy that fear was unfounded.

It was hard returning to reality and going back to work today after two weeks off, but overall things went fine.

I have to work this Saturday and will probably take this weekend to veg before I must get serious with my freelance work, the writing of a news library profile and program planning for a local professional organization I'm part of.

I know you're all dying to know what I did New Year's Eve, so I'll confess midnight came and went without me noticing. I further confess what was distracting me, the episode of "Dog the Bounty Hunter" where Dog and Beth marry. I wonder if Julie was watching as well. (An inside joke to a colleague and friend of mine.)

I wish you all a happy and healthy 2007.