Wednesday, October 31, 2007

On the eve of Halloween, a brief story about reincarnation

My father always told me that as he left the hospital after I was born, the newspaper headlines were that Franklin Roosevelt had died. He said his greatest fear was that I might be the reincarnation of Roosevelt.

So I spent much of my young life thinking that I was born on the day that Roosevelt died. I did even consider that Roosevelt might have died in the night while I was born the next morning.

At any rate, it is probably remarkable that my father, not just a scientist, but a physicist, spoke to me this way about reincarnation. It gave me a basis for considering reincarnation seriously, which I did at various times in my life, which is a topic for another day.

At some point, perhaps as a teen or in my early 20's, I decided to look up the death of Franklin Roosevelt. You can imagine my surprise to find that he did not die the day before or on my birthday. He died the day after I was born! Apparently, my father was in the hospital so long that the time merged into one day.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Bible in our culture

In school I learned that when the American pioneers left the east coast in their covered wagons, they took two books with them: The Bible and a copy of the complete works of Shakespeare.

I grew up in Houston, Texas, in the Bible Belt of America. As a child, I did not really know what this Bible was, or Shakespeare either for that matter. Today, I have multiple copies of both the Bible and Shakespeare. No, the copies are not identical. It is amazing how many different versions there are of the Bible. Even Shakespeare is getting his due with the historical work looking into his true identity.

Seeking the meanings of a spiritual text is certainly a lifelong task. I spent eleven years studying with a teacher who translated the text from the Greek and Hebrew. I learned that the Greek Bible we study was written using the Greek of Alexander the Great. My teacher taught that Alexander's Greek is one of the most precise languages ever. I have studied with many other teachers since only to realize that whom one selects as a teacher is a very important decision. I have learned much from each of my teachers.

As a child, I questioned why there were so many different types of religions and subtypes within each religion. I have studied with teachers from many subtypes of Christianity as well as with several Rabbis, and looked into Eastern beliefs. My best answer to my childhood question is that we humans have to have a teacher. The universal being (you would be surprised at how many names there are for this) has to send us someone to teach us, which is done in every generation and there can be multiple teachers in a generation. If one goes back to the teachings of the initial teacher of any movement that becomes a religion or subreligion, one will find an amazing consistency in the teachings.

Each teacher uses different examples to illustrate his or her teaching. The students at the time the teacher is alive can be kept safe from misunderstandings because they can check with their teacher. However, after the teacher has passed on, as they must do, then over time the teachings get distorted by our human tendency to place more importance on the physical than on what we cannot see (spiritual). The rituals that were meant to help us understand a spiritual teaching get overemphasized. Before long, people are fighting over the rituals.

Look yourself to see what it is that people in different religions disagree over. However, if we would all ask what the original teachings were with less emphasis on what the illustrations were, we might find that there is much we could agree on and perhaps not get involved in so many conflicts. Most of all, we need to define what we want in a spiritual teacher. They say the teacher shows up when you are ready.

I always return to the story of the blind men and the elephant. You know, one said an elephant is like a rope, one said the elephant is like a tree trunk, another said it is like a wall, yet another said it is like a hose. The poor elephant is misunderstood by them all.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Thursday, October 25, 2007

An example of how a child uses a library for problem solving

My parents often spoke of Franklin Roosevelt as the worst thing that happened to this country. As a child, I wondered who he was and what was so bad about him. Sometime about the fifth grade (1955), I looked for a biography on Roosevelt so I could answer my questions. My school library had a whole series of biographies that had orange bindings. Sure enough there was one on Franklin. The book did tell me about who Franklin was and about his life. It did not really tell me, nor was I probably ready to comprehend, what my parents thought was so bad about him.

The point here is that libraries provide a child with a place to find some answers to his or her questions. Many times a child's questions are not ones that have been fully articulated. Bruno Bettelheim has certainly shown this in his work with fairy tales in the book, The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales.

Bettelheim relates in the book how different children use the same fairy tale to resolve problems at different ages. In the case of Hansel and Gretel, one might think that the story is most useful for children dealing with fears about their parents diserting them, but Bettelheim tells how a young girl used the story to work out her own autonomy separate from her brother. Battelheim relates how Gretel had to take action to save her brother, who was in a cage, from being cooked and eaten by the witch. The girl did not really know what was bothering her, but apparently, she had been dependent on her own brother and it was time for her to assert herself. The Hansel and Gretel story gave her a model of Gretel acting independently so the girl was able to use this model in her own life.

Reading Bettelheim gave me a new insight into children and helps me to listen to them differently. The difference is being open to what a child may not be able to articulate, but what is a question for him or her. It is important to step back from our own thinking to allow the child to explore in a seemingly disordered way that may lead to his or her hitting on just the issue that is not at the level of awareness that would allow articulation.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Review of an Adesso CyberPad for Note Taking

After starting graduate school in the summer, I was captivated by the idea that I could take notes that OCR software would turn into a text file. I began a study of various pens and tablets for note taking. Most of the pens require special paper, so I rejected that idea. A few of the pens I looked into seemed to be vaporware.

Finally, I was in J&R Computers where I saw an Adesso CyberPad. I spoke at length with the J&R representative. He had no experience with the CyberPad and he did not know anyone who had tried it. He assured me that they sell the pads and that people did not seem to be returning them. I was hesitant to try it after my study of note-taking systems on the Internet, but because of their return policy, I purchased it.

Specifically, reviews of the CyberPad said that it really did give good results, meaning a jpg file of the handwriting. Most reviewers of this product (late August and early September) did not seem to have tried and certainly did not comment on converting the handwriting to text. One reviewer specifically said he had not tried converting the handwriting to text. He did try the email program to email the notes and said it worked very well.

One nice feature of the CyberPad is that I could use a regular notebook clipped onto the pad to take my notes in regular ink. The mechanism for recording the digital image was picked up from the relative position of the pen on the pad and a quarter-inch to 3/8ths inch of paper stacked on top of the CyberPad clipboard did not matter. In fact, the unit comes with an inexpensive letter-sized legal pad (see in photo; clicking photo reveals a larger image). The pen itself looked cheap with some sort of plastic gripper glued onto the barrel of the pen, but it worked and was not too thick or heavy to hold. It seemed to be balanced fairly well for writing comfortably. The ball point pen made nice, smooth lines on the paper.

Also, it is important for my uses (note taking in college classes) that the CyberPad does not have to be connected to the computer while you are taking notes. It comes with rechargeable batteries and its own battery charger (see third photo). It also has an SD slot to add extra capacity for storing pages to the 32 MB that the pad comes with. It has ample storage space with 26 directories (one for each letter of the alphabet) that can hold 99 files, one file for each page of text that you write adding up to a capacity of 2,574 pages.

I found that the CyberPad did indeed make good jpg files of my handwritten notes. It would be easy to send a copy of such notes to classmates when they missed class. On the other hand, I could easily just scan my regular pencil and pen notes.

The OCR software is where I found deficiency. My package included MyInk software for the conversion. The software did not have a clear manual and the directions for use were obscure. You can see the various manuals from the photo (click on the photo for a larger image that you can read) for six different software titles: MyInk, riteMail, EverNote 1.0, Free Notes, Office Ink, PowerPresenter RE, and Pensoft Pro. [Note: I have revisited reviews of this product in December and found that less software is bundled with the product. J&R is now bundling Adobe Photoshop Elements 5.0 with the product.]

Other reviewers say that the conversion to text is made by riteMail. riteMail is the program that one uses to view the pages of notes on the computer. I saw nothing about it having OCR capacity, and I tried all the options that were available. But please notice in other reviews that they just say that this is very powerful software that recognizes four languages without giving any specifics as to how it works. Also, notice that the same pictures are in most every review of CyperPad. I think that if word was out that this software worked in translating handwriting to text, it would be big news! Apparently, riteMail is a product of EverNote as they have other "rite technology." [However, riteMail is not listed one their web site in December.]

The review that I am the most surprised about is at I believe that Catherine Roseberry actually used a CyperPad to write and look at the files on her computer, but I do not believe that it translated the jpg files to text. She gives no detail about the translation from handwriting to text. That is the key question in any review and experience with converting handwriting to text. All the reviews just fade away from specifics and barely mention that they got text files from the jpg. If it worked, it would be exceptional given the present state of handwriting recognition. Why would I get hooked into thinking it could be done? Because I use the Palm operating system with my Kyocera phone and daily it converts my handwriting into text.

There was an implication in some of the reviews that I read in late August and early September that this product would work very well with Vista's ink program. The program supplied in the package, MyInk, did some weird things on my computer. After spending more time than I would have liked, I never got one character translated to text. I did see a screen that supposedly worked at the letter-by-letter level. Since removing the software from my computer, I have been getting a message that one of the programs related to my mouse is not loading. I am politely asked if I want to send Microsoft a report about the problem. Restarting the computer fixes it and ignoring the error seems to work as well. [Note: there is no mention of MyInk software in reviews of this product in December.]

Adesso includes EverNote software, which is really a database for managing information. Here one can store and retrieve the jpg images that are created for each page. The addition of key words allows you to find the jpg image with the data. EverNote can store files other than jpg files. I remember hearing about EverNote years ago when it first came out. I was surprised to encounter it again, especially in version 1.0. One would think that it would have made some advances in the couple of years it has been around. In fact, the EverNote web site has version 2.2 which does say it has the capacity to translate handwriting into text. How is it that Adesso can produce an over-priced item and not include the latest versions of the software?

Honestly, I only looked at the Adesso reviews, not the EverNote reviews. I do not understand why a company would not bundle the best software possible with their product. I must admit, that after reading the EverNote reviews, I probably should have upgraded the software and I would have been happy with the Adesso product. With the pressure of working within a short time to try out the product before the opportunity to return it passed, I packed it up and returned it rather than risking spending a lot of money on something that did not work. You can tell by looking at the photo of the documentation, that the manuals were not the original manuals of the various software products. When the customer sees the cheap way they put the pen together plus the cheap production of the manuals, it does not lead to confidence that the product will work. They should take a lesson from Steve Jobs on the importance of design, construction, and packaging of a product. One can download the manual from EverNote and find that it is of better quality. In hindsight, I wish I had checked reviews of EverNote. I did not think that EverNote or riteMail was the software for converting the handwriting to text. I understand now that EverNote 2.2 might be a really good product.

The bottom line: I returned the CyberPad. [Note: This entry was reviewed and edited in December.]

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Review of Kensington Wireless Mouse

If this mouse had been a laser mouse, I would have kept it. I compared it with a laser Rocketfish wireless mouse, which is the mouse I now use.

That said, I loved the Kensington wireless mouse for its design and the planning that went into it.

The mouse is designed to work both with and without a wire.

The wire is hidden away inside the mouse and is there so you can continue working during an airplane's take-off and landing.

The mouse's top cover comes off to expose the battery compartment and the wire.

As with other wireless mice, the USB receiver is tucked away inside the mouse, in this case in its bottom.

The mouse automatically turns off when you insert the USB receiver into its slot.

The mouse was easy to hold, the shape is appealing, and the choice of colors (orange/silver or black/black) is greater than with other manufacturers. There are three other colors of similar looking mice by Kensington, but they are different. A silver mouse does not have the wired option; a red mouse has the wired option, but the wire does not store in the mouse; and a green mouse uses an Express card slot for connection instead of USB.

My only other concern with this mouse is that its flatness would tire my hand over time.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Daniel Rubey, Ph.D., MLS - Hofstra University

Dr. Daniel Rubey is the Dean of Library and Information Services at Hofstra University with his office in the Axinn Library [Note: Dr. Rubey played an important role in the redesigning and renovations of the Axinn Library.] He spoke to Carol Simon's class at Queens College on July 9, 2007 on the topic, Some questions currently facing academic libraries and librarians.

He grouped the questions according to the departments in the library. As he was speaking to future librarians, he told us about the personnel in each department. Acquisitions and Collection Development has one librarian plus some staff in technical services. Technical Services, including cataloging and serials, has three librarians plus 7 or 8 staff. Reference Services includes thirteen librarians, who are subject specialists with a second MA in the subject. They do collection development, teach, and talk to people in the related departments. Systems is headed by a Dean with two assistants. Preservation is headed by an Assistant Dean with two curators and two other staff.

Acquisitions and Collections
This department has the most grants. They also deal with copyright and e-reserve issues. Hofstra uses a methodology software for student remote access to e-reserves. A major question that is facing this area is books vs. e-books. Hofstra circulates 60,000 books a year. What about textbooks (the library makes available expensive texts for in library usage and are considering a rental program)? The e-library has multiple users, but people can access only ten pages at a time. Other questions follow similarly as journals vs. e-journals. Hofstra has 250 print titles. We have 7,000 journals online (fully 1,500,000 when the law school journals are included). Do we own or access materials? How does the answer to such questions affect our budget? What about scholarly communications? What does the world of open access offer to libraries and how much do we partake? In science and business collections, do we need to increase grey literature (not published, but referred to and difficult to locate)? What about joining a consortium for collection development and buying? Consortiums bring up issues of autonomy and limiting Hofstra's choices to reach group consensus with area libraries. (An example of an electronic buying consortium is WALDO; Connect NY is a consortium for inter-library loans.) How do we use faculty liaison groups in resolving the answers to these questions?

Technical Services: Cataloging and Serials
Do we use original cataloging or do we copy cataloging? Should we outsource the cataloging? What is the purpose of the OPAC? What do we catalog? Do we include electronic sources or list them separately? Contained within this question is the issue of who can use electronic sources: only students and faculty or can others also access these for a fee? What sort of access should be provided beyond the catalog? What cataloging standards do we need to include: AACR2, Dublin Core (hypertext markup language and additional audio and video data), and/or other metadata? Do we need to catalog the departmental libraries? What about grey literature? What about Google? Do we participate in Google's digitization project? While it can make some money for the university, there are other issues that need to be resolved.

Reference Services
Do we need a reference desk or virtual reference desks? What instruction and teaching should we be responsible for? Do we need to provide a basic level of information literacy for our students and community? How has Google and Google Scholar changed reference work? Should we define levels of instruction such as basic, upper-level, and graduate? Should we be delivering distance learning? What outcomes do we want to foster and how do we assess our achievement? What faculty liaison activities should we support and encourage? What is our role in faculty research? Should we provide tutorials, guides and FAQs?

What computer architecture is best for our library? ILS systems? web pages? portals? Internet? Internet2?

What technology platform and components do we need? What computer equipment do we need? Do we provide electronic classrooms? What about sharing information? Should we have wireless access? What educational technology and/or software should we be providing? What is the best architecture for learning?

Are we looking to preserve or replace paper? What role can JSTOR play in preservation of leading journals? Do we need compact shelving for housing paper? Hofstra has 35,000 books in off-site storage. We have 850,000 titles on microfiche. Should we turn to commercial off-site storage? Do we preserve film or turn to DVDs? Do we know (with confidence) the life expectancy (archival period) of a DVD? What are the processes and forms we should use in preserving digital information? What about faculty products that may need preservation? Other categories of content that we may need to preserve include institutional information, individual institutional repositories, shared institutional depositories, and special collections. Who are we preserving these for?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Dublin Core: How it happened and how to see it

I first heard of Dublin Core [officially Dublin Core Meta Data Initiative] in Carol Simon's class last summer. One of my classmates gave a short PowerPoint presentation on it. I left with more questions than I started with. OK, I know it is a classification system, but why another one? You have to go to a source outside of their "About the initiative" web page to find that the invitational workshop initiated by OCLC (Online Computer Library Center) was in 1995. OCLC itself was started in 1967 by some very progressively thinking librarians. Fred Kilgour's (president of OCLC from 1967 to 1980) thinking was shaped during his years in WWII as Wikipedia reports:
Kilgour served during World War II as a lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Reserve and was Executive Secretary and Acting Chairman of the U.S. government’s Interdepartmental Committee for the Acquisition of Foreign Publications (IDC), which developed a system for obtaining publications from enemy and enemy-occupied areas. This organization of 150 persons in outposts around the world microfilmed newspapers and other printed information items and sent them back to Washington, DC.
Kilgore was a graduate of Harvard whose first job in 1935 was as assistant to the Director of the Harvard University Library. As an aside, he met his wife at the Harvard library where she was also a librarian. It was at Harvard that he first began collecting microfilm of foreign newspapers for students at Harvard, which led to his being sought for the work he did in the military. After his military service (1942-1945), he continued working for the State Department (1946-1948) as deputy director in the Office of Intelligence Collection and Dissemination (OCLC, news release).

In 1948, Fred became a Librarian for the Yale Medical Library. He made empirical studies of various categories of people using sets of books at the library to judge what needed to be purchased to serve the educational needs of Yale medical students.

In 1967, Fred was hired by the Ohio College Association in its first project of amassing a union catalog of 54 Ohio Universities. After four years of development, the "world's first computerized library network, the Ohio College Library Center, on the campus of The Ohio State University in Columbus" (OCLC, News release) was born in 1971. He was instrumental in refocusing the organization to its current global thinking and form as the Online Computer Library Center during his tenure as its president from 1967 to 1980. The original Ohio Computer Library Center was expanded and is now the WorldCat (on Wikipedia). The Wikipedia entry for Fred gives more information about his experimenting with digital cataloging long before 1967:
"While at the Harvard University Library, he began experimenting in automating library procedures, primarily the use of punched cards for a circulation system. He also studied [graduate school] under George Sarton, a pioneer in the new discipline of the history of science, and began publishing scholarly papers. He also launched a project to build a collection of microfilmed foreign newspapers to help scholars have access to newspapers from abroad. This activity quickly came to the attention of government officials in Washington, D.C.

"In 1961, he was one of the leaders in the development of a prototype computerized library catalog system for the medical libraries at Columbia, Harvard and Yale Universities that was funded by the National Science Foundation. In 1965, Kilgour was named associate librarian for research and development at Yale University. He continued to conduct experiments in library automation and to promote their potential benefits in the professional literature."

It is an honor to be seeking a profession with people of the caliber of Fred Kilgour! Knowing more about OCLC, which initiated Dublin Core, I am now even more curious about DC. By the early 70's I had my first Master's degree (M.Ed.). I was always curious about computers and took all the math courses that were required for a computer degree in case I decided to leave education. I knew people working on computers who let me use them to keep track of a mailing list of the members of an organization that I worked with. In that way, I got my experience using punch cards. In the early 80s I moved to New York.

By 1995, when the first workshop on the standard that became Dublin Core was held, I was making web sites for several businesses. I knew that these businesses needed more than a web site. I checked their competition and advised them that they needed to differentiate what they were offering from what turned out to be hundreds of other similar businesses. I studied search engines and how to set up key terms to push my clients' web sites higher in the search order. In another situation as a volunteer, I reviewed and added to an index for a book. I knew then that someday I wanted to study indexing to find out how a professional indexer would work. I remembered a comment of Kurt Vonnegut's in Cat's Cradle about how indexers think differently from all other people. But since I had never studied library science, I was missing much of the knowledge of how to organize data.

What was missing for me in my colleague's presentation on Dublin Core was that DC was an effort to bring to the Internet and the World Wide Web the librarian's knowledge of how to catalog data so that it can be found by researchers. A new system had to be created because no existing system could do the job and the new system needed to be an integral part of every document/audio, video, and data file on the Internet. How could we as beginning library science students in our first course even begin to understand what bringing librarians' knowledge to the task meant! My first experience using a controlled vocabulary occurred in another Library and Information Science summer school course after the Dublin Core presentation where I learned how to create a subject entry using the Library of Congress subject headings (LCSH).

I remember first encountering the New York yellow pages after my move from Texas. There seemed to be a disconnect from my Texas thinking to what New Yorkers must think as I had to keep trying different terms to find businesses in those yellow pages. Well, reading through and looking up subjects in the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) felt similar to my first using those NY yellow pages. The process of learning how to use the LCSH took extensive time and did not at first seem to be the time saver that it actually is. But learning to use LCSH did not happen before my colleague gave her presentation on Dublin Core.

As I read more about Dublin Core, I found the information related to building a database. My husband works in the computer field and in the summers, I traveled with him as he delivered his seminars. I learned the notation required for building a computer system reflecting business rocesses, data flows, and entity relationship diagrams (ERD - see Crow's feet). One-and-only-one association between elements not only avoids ambiguity and redundancy, but also is a characteristic of a DB key. Clearly, Dublin Core's mission "to facilitate the finding, sharing and management of information" (DCMI About the initiative) is accomplished by bringing the proven method of controlled vocabulary to the world of Internet search necessarily expressed as machine readable language. This is an ambitious mission given how many people must cooperate to do it! I must share with you a web page by Cory Doctorow, called, Metacrap: Putting the torch to seven straw-men of the meta-utopia. It is delightful as well as insightful to read. Despite the title, Doctorow is very practical and supportive of efforts such as Dublin Core to add metadata to the Internet.

Participating with standards organizations is one way to improve metadata on the Internet. Remember that Dublin Core was started by OCLC, which is a member of W3C, the Internet standards consortium (founded October 1991, predating Dublin Core by 4 years). A programmer can check to be sure his HTML code is W3C compliant. I don't know if the test also looks for Dublin Core. I can test for it later. The National Information Standards Organization (NISO, founded in 1939) has Z39.85 where Dublin Core is alive and well. OCLC is a voting member of NISO. Due to the importance of contributions made by librarians to standards, NISO has a special category of membership for librarians which does not preclude their also being a voting member($$).

If you use the Firefox browser, consider adding the Dublin Core Viewer Plugin. There is also a second add-on for viewing Dublin Core, called Dublin Core NeViewer. While I finally got both viewers installed, neither is working properly. I left a note for help. Making Dublin Core more visible has to help in understanding it. Of course there are developers of many web sites who do not even know of Dublin Core, just as I did not (although my work was at the time DC was being developed and probably it was not yet in the W3C standards, which I paid attention to). But as a library student, it would be nice to be able to track what of DC is out there in that vast world of the Internet. Think of all the possible users; can you imagine some of them adding DC to their sites? When I succeed in getting one of these Firefox plug-ins (add-ons seems to be their new name) to work, I will write an addendum.

Now that the 15 simple elements are established and the qualified elements, the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI) is focusing through open forum on developing a list of terms for describing an item. If you are going to have a standard across a large group of people, then someone has to look at various cases of term usage. Even a cursory glance at the list of terms shows that a lot of thought has been put forth in designing these terms. Developing the metadata terms gives librarians the chance to avoid any weaknesses of other classification systems. It is also interesting to see how the human and the machine readers are both included in their work.

Some additional links that explain how to use Dublin Core
Web Developer Resource Index: Dublin Core
O' xml from the inside out: An introduction to Dublin Core
National Information Standards Organization (NISO) Z39.85 -2007
DMCI Metadata Terms
Dublin Core Metadata Userguide (2005)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Diane Goldstein, Executive Recruiter

Diane Goldstein was a librarian for 34 years. She got her library degree in 1973. She has worked as a medical librarian. For the past seven and a half years, she has been a recruiter. She was the guest speaker in Carol Simon's class at Queens College on July 18, 2007.

More to come . . .

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Deidre Heiz, School Media Librarian

Deidre Heiz is in her ninth year as a school media librarian at the Meadowbrook School in the East Meadow Union Free School District and was the guest speaker in Carol Simon's class on July 30, 2007. East Meadow Union Free School District is the largest school district in Nassau County with 8,000 students served by 5 elementary schools, 2 middle schools and 2 high schools.

Meadowbrook Elementary School, serving grades K-5, is their smallest elementary school. In grades K, 1, and 2, special education classes are combined with the regular education classes. Special educations classes run 12 to 15 students while the regular education classes are 25 students. The teachers play to the strengths of the special education students. They also emphasize character education and the New York State Standards.

The Meadowbrook School Library has an OPAC online. In addition, their web site features 8 othere tabs (links).
  • Storyline Online, with online streaming video content featuring Screen Actors Guild members reading children's stories.
  • Kids' Search, a Ramapo Catskill Internet Guide (Ramapo Catskill Library System), which is also included on the Reference page.
  • CyberHunts, a link which takes you to Scholastic Instructor, a magazine with lots of ideas for teachers.
  • World of Reading (Ann Arbor District Library) is a site featuring book reviews written by and for kids from around the world.
  • KidsReads is a place on the Internet for kids to find information about their favorite books. It features book reviews, author profiles and interviews, trivia games word scrambles and contests. KidsRead is a part of The Book Report Network.
  • Book Awards is a web site of the Meadowbrook Schoool listing ALSC web pages for Caldecott, Newberry, and Dr. Seuss, awards with New York State's Children Choice Awards called 3 Apples book awards.
  • The reference center includes Info Please, Kids Search, Factmonster (from Information Please), Library (back to the main library page), and two Extra tabs (these appear to be placeholders for future tabs).
  • The Authors link does not appear to be working.
On the Meadowbrook School web site, there is a separate tab for Search Engines. Deidre spoke of the importance of teaching the children to question the accuracy of the information on the Internet. She has found tat the children in the 4th and 5th grades do not have as much time to read as the younger children.

In terms of expanding the collection of books, Deidre stressed that one must talk to the children to find out what they read. A librarian absolutely needs this information to know what to buy for the library. One must tailor the books to the school needs. Do the children need bilingual books? What subjects are being taught in the classroom that need to also be supported in the library? The library must supplement what the classroom teachers are teaching. One must constantly read and get student requests. For example, the students love the Junie B. Jones books about a fictional character. It is a very challenging job! It is important for a school to create a Collection Development Policy.

Deidre spoke of teaching the children the 5-finger test for selecting a book to read. She also spoke of using a yellow light. There is a May 2007 issue of the Reading Teacher, which describes a technique of using a yellow light to identify components of reading or the during reading components, in the process of teaching students to monitor their understanding while they read. The article (search on "Traffic light") is available through The Wilson Web's Education full text datbase to students at Queens College.

She spoke of running a book challenge given by the principal of the school. She also has a Mystery Question during National Library Week or other literary weeks. She uses the Big Six Skills for Research. She said that video streaming was tried in the school, but they had to stop it because it slowed down the computers.

Deidre continually stressed the need to take time - to find time - to communicate with students and teachers!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Alice Hudson and Map Librarianship

Alice Hudson is the Chief Librarian at the newly renovated Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division of the New York Public Library.

More to come . . .

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Desk Set and Agnes Law

William Marchant, who wrote the 1955 play Desk Set, began by observing Agnes Law at CBS much in the way that Spencer Tracy was watching Katherine Hepburn. It is not so easy to find information on Agnes Law. She was brought to my attention when I listened to the commentary on the film that accompanies the DVD for the movie, Desk Set.

More to come . . .

Monday, October 08, 2007

Mary Ellen Bates

Deborah Falik introduced me to Mary Ellen Bates. I found Mary Ellen Bates' presence on the Internet demanded that she have her own separate entry in my blog.

More to come . . .

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Gina Martorella, Federal Depository Librarian

Gina Martorella started as a news librarian. She worked on Newsday's "Long Island: Our Story" project as an intern, which is reported in News Library News Online, Vol. 20, No.3/Spring 1998, excerpted here:
Georgina Martorella, who has an MBA and an MLS, is the editorial researcher on the project. Gina came to Newsday's Editorial Library as an intern several years ago, and has worked on special assignments ever since. Her first task was to organize a system for the vast paper files and over 600 books that would eventually accumulate. Gina worked one-on-one with reporters and editors to assemble a first rate collection of sources. Using ACCESS and MSWord software, she developed systems to keep track of contact names, books owned and borrowed, local experts, and profiles of area historic collections. Gina often had to trek to obscure local collections to pore over dusty and fragile documents. Her most valuable assets in this undertaking have been the connections she has made with over 250 history experts, librarians and teachers. Gina's experience with the project has been rewarding. She enjoyed, working closely with writers, becoming deeply involved with and gaining an understanding of the challenging process of writing.

Today she is an energetic government documents librarian at the Federal Depository library at Hofstra University. There are 1,250 to 1,300 depository libraries, one for every congressional district. To participate in a democracy, the people must be knowledgeable so that they can hold the government accountable for their actions. The main users of a depository library are the free press and scholars.

The 50 regional libraries of the Federal Depository Library Program get everything that the federal government publishes so every state has every document published. There is a Federal Depository Library Manual that discusses all the topics of federal depository librarianship (library programs services, collection development, maps, electronic publications, bibliographic control, maintenance, depository promotion, inspections, suggested core collection, maps available for selection, minimum standards, index). Gina usually selects 50% of the available information for her library. Title 44 of the US code, policies and procedures, says that we must adhere to the SuDoc system of classification.

Since the eGovernment Act of 2002 (Library of Congress Thomas entry), about 90% of government publications are distributed via the Internet.

Gina introduced us to PURLs or Permanent (Persistent) URLs, which were invented to solve the problem of web sites migrating to another location. By registering a PURL, then later if you move the site, people can still find it using the PURL because the PURL does not change. When the location of the site the PURL points to changes, then the PURL resolver, a server similar to a name domain server, looks up the current URL that is associated with the persistent one. The PURL is listed in the source code of a web page. PURL is a project of OCLC. [Note: The Library of Congress has a web site for Teaching with Primary Sources that uses PURLs.]

Gina also introduced us to, which I personally never heard of before and I think it is fantastic! It should be taught in every high school!! Americans can comment on policy in progress! allows the public to communicate with a broad spectrum of government agencies whose regulations touch countless aspects of their daily lives. More than 35 partner Departments and Agencies participate in the eRulemaking Initiative, one of the most far-reaching Federal E-Government programs.
It is worth repeating some text from the Introduction of the help pages: is the U.S. Government website that makes it easier for you to participate in Federal rulemaking - an essential part of the American democratic process.

On this site, you can find, review, and submit comments on Federal documents that are open for comment and published in the Federal Register. You may also search for and view all regulations from all Federal Agencies. As a member of the public, you can submit comments on these regulations and have the Government take your views into account. is a major component of the eRulemaking Initiative. The eRulemaking Initiative is one of 25 e-Government initiatives associated with the President’s Management Agenda. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the managing partner for this initiative.

Gina spoke of the searchable database of all organizations that receive government money that is to become available on January 1, 2008 pursuant to P.L. 109-282, Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006. The following is quoted from page 3:
(1) WEBSITE.—Not later than January 1, 2008, the Office of Management and Budget shall, in accordance with this section, section 204 of the E-Government Act of 2002 (Public Law 107–347; 44 U.S.C. 3501 note), and the Office of Federal Procurement Policy Act (41 U.S.C. 403 et seq.), ensure the existence and operation of a single searchable website, accessible by the public at no cost to access, that includes for each Federal award . . .
Gina next spoke of the Toxic Release Inventory where you put in a zip code to get data for your area. The New York State data for 2005 is reported. For the 2006 data, the web site has TRI-ME desktop version software available for download. The software appears to be for companies reporting data. New York is not listed as one of the states that participates. There is a Scorecard review of the TRI.

Federal Deposit Libraries prepare a Monthly Catalog of print publications and have been doing this since 1895. The print version of the Monthly Catalog was discontinued with the December 2004 editon when the online Catalog of US Government Publications (CGP) replaced it (the CGP was started in January 1994). When you use the CGP, you will see the PURL addresses for publications and the SuDoc numbers. If a government publication is not available online, then there is a link to the Federal Depository Librarys that would have the document. The purpose of the Monthly Catalog was to help users find documents near them. Hofstra Library began as a Federal Depository Library in 1964, so Hofstra is listed in the print version of the Monthly Catalog for the years 1964 through 2004.

Some additional information that Gina gave:
  • Today, some government documents are "born" as digital documents having never been put on paper.
  • An archive in Texas, called CyberCemetary (North Texas State University), lists documents of agencies that no longer exist.
  • Integrated Library System (ILS) - see the chart of various ILS over time that have merged; ILSR (R for Record) is a publication about ILS; interesting article on dismantling ILS; Koha, open source ILS from New Zealand.
  • Listserv for Federal Documents Librarians is called GOVDOC-L.
  • Useful web sites for a documents librarian.
  • Presidential Records Act of 1978 (Library of Congress Thomas entry) had its genesis in Watergate. Presidential papers, speeches, records, and emails are to be released 12 years after the Presidency ended. Reagan has had 68,000 pages released with 74 pages on the subject of Iran Contra not released. Executive Order (EO# 13233 of November 2001) claims executive privilege so the records have not been released. A representative of a former President can withhold the records. Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2007 (Library of Congress Thomas entry) is an effort to overturn EO# 13233. The bill passed the House. According to LOC Thomas, the bill has not passed the Senate.
  • Gina also spoke of Tom Blanton, National Security Archive, University of Georgetown, Washington, DC., who gave testimony at a hearing on the Presidential Records Act. Blanton has asked for papers from George H. W. Bush's Library on the December 1989 Summit Meeting at Malta. Those records are being reviewed in accordance with EO# 13233 and have not been released. The video of the hearing is available (panel I is the first third with the rest being panel II, when Tom Blanton is one of the speakers).
  • The Patriot Act, section 215 is also cause for concern, especially for libraries. The FBI can order records without showing "probable cause" and those served with a Section 215 order cannot tell anyone. The Bridgeport library case was published in the New York Times on August 26, 2005. Judge Hall in Bridgeport, CT issued her opinion in ACLU v. Gonzales October 4, 2005, holding that the gag order associated with the National Security Letter received by an anonymous ALA member violated the First Amendment. The government has until September 20th to appeal. You can view the decision (PDF).
  • There is also concern that Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) (see the Electronic Frontier Foundation - EFF's FAQ on FISA by their senior counsel) might issue orders similar to the National Security Letter to confiscate records.
  • Greta Marlatt's role as an expert in defense department information was also mentioned. It was pointed out that in addition to public, university, and federal depository libraries, agencies also have libraries.
Gina certainly dispels all thoughts of a quiet librarian shushing patrons. Gina is energetic, bright, and deeply concerned about our American way of life. She values the Federal Depository Libraries as part of that American way of life. Our responsibility is to be informed and to participate in our government.

[This entry is based on notes taken when Gina was a guest speaker in Carol Simon's class in the summer of 2007 at Queens College's Graduate School of Library and Information Science.]

Friday, October 05, 2007

Deborah Falik, Independent Information Professional

On July 25, 2007, I met Deborah Falik, an independent information professional. She has most recently been working as a contractor with Ellis Island, National Parks, to archive materials in its collection. [The web page on National Parks libraries does not list the Ellis Island research library.] She was a speaker in Carol Simon's class.

Deborah was a brand new graduate with her MLS from Queens College in the early seventy's. There were no library jobs then. So she became a claims representative at Social Security for 15 years. She learned medical terminology and all about disability claims.

Then she worked for a director of an advertising agency as a solo librarian locating art work. This experience exposed her to a lot of things that people do in libraries.

Deborah spoke of the Information Sourcerer. This was a project of the National Medical Library during the 1990s. It was a part of the Unified Medical Language System (UMLS) project. "There are four UMLS Knowledge Sources: the Metathesaurus®:, the SPECIALISTtm Lexicon, a Semantic Network and an Information Sources Map" (Introduction, ¶3). The Information Sourcerer was the query interface for the Information Sources Map (ISM).

The U.S. National Library of Medicine's (NLM) Sourcerer project is developing software which accepts a user query, automatically identifies appropriate information resources, and facilitates connection to those sources for information retrieval. The current Sourcerer prototype utilizes the multimedia/multiplatform/multiprotocol network-based hypertext system known as World Wide Web. It also relies upon the knowledge sources of the Unified Medical Language System (UMLS). The UMLS is the result of a long-term project of NLM. It comprises a large Metathesaurus of biomedical concepts (coupled with a semantic network and syntactical/lexical software tools) and the information Sources Map (ISM), a database of records describing specific biomedical information resources. (Rogers, 1995 in UMLS, Access to Multiple Knowledge-based Information Sources, 1986-1996, ¶12).

Deborah then talked about the American Association of Information Professionals and the Special Libraries Association. An extensive list of Competencies for Information Professionals has been developed (in pdf format, 17 pages).

Mary Ellen Bates (photo) (her blog) created the profession of Independent Information Professionals. She is a pro in online searching. Deborah also spoke of Tom Rink as a solo librarian with the police department.

Deborah explained that doing archiving requires common sense, asking questions, being able to organize, and being prepared for the unexpected. Archiving has its share of drudge work as well as making judgments.

I asked Deborah if she had ever heard of Jennifer John who had been the only research librarian at the Houston Public Library. Jennifer's twin brothers (Peter and John) were the age of one of my younger brothers, so I had known of her through my school years in Houston. I saw her parents regularly when I was sailing at the Houston Yacht Club. They told me she had just started a business as a research librarian. It sounded so interesting that I paid Jennifer a visit.

She had a staff of about 12 or 15 young people all wearing the black T-shirt of her new private reference service. She had trained them in the use of the computer and searching databases. She had a wonderful brochure and information about her business, which I probably still have filed away in some very old papers. She said she got lots of referrals from the Houston Public Library since they had not replaced her and there was no one else to do reference work.

It was the Summer of 1981, when I left Houston to live in New York City. I have lost touch with Jennifer since, but I will always remember her concept of the business. I remember thinking that I wish I had access to all those databases she taught her people to use. I now realize that Jennifer was also a Independent Information Professional.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

James Olney, Assistant Director of a suburban library

On July 23, 2007, James Olney, assistant director of the Northport-East Northport Public Library was the guest speaker in Carol Simon's class. James has a background in economics and business. He recommends taking an internship-trainee position in the library you want to work in. Select people with the same ideals that you have yourself. He has two Masters degrees: Library and Business.

The library is in the town of Huntington with 36,000 residents who use the library heavily. It is composed of two buildings in a supportive community. A building project is a great opportunity. Northport was to have a new addition built for expansion. East-Northport was a whole new construction project. There was a mile and a half between the two buildings. There is an $8.7 million budget.

James has been working at this library for 22 years with experience in every department. He is now in the computer services department. They run their own fiber lines to connect the two buildings. They employ six full-time programmers. They maintain the menuing systems, control the computers and desktop publishers. They publish posters. The library has its own Wi-Fi service. They use no Internet filters, though they can provide filters for children of parents who request it.

There is a cafe in the library that stocks food, ice cream, coffee, latte. When you run the cafe yourself, then you get the profit. The library is open 12 hours from nine to nine. At first they contracted the food service. After three contractors, they decided to run it themselves.

There is an active teen program with outreach through MySpace with great photos and with 169 friends. The library also uses Upcoming to announce musical events.

The library also has its own security service. Previously the security was also contracted out. They are not uniformed, but they have tags. All staff wears employee badges. The purpose of the security is to maintain order, assist in the closing, and escort staff to their parking spots.

The train station is next to one of the library buildings, with a park and playground nearby, which brings up other issues. The town park closes at dusk. There have been incidents with illegal drugs. They had to have the pay phone set to only allow outgoing calls. A police squad car is stationed at the library lot all night. There is also a police officer on a bicycle in the park. There are security cameras in all public areas.

Having the train station so close to the library led to the Read-Ride-Return program.

There are 175 employees at the library. Salaries and benefits make up almost 70% of the library budget. There is always a fund raising component at libraries. One project was a courtyard. It was necessary to reach out to have the community reinvest $150,000 in itself. The community is more than willing to help because the librarians are so committed to the community. The completed courtyard was dedicated last fall (2006). The courtyard has a covered area, so it is used even in the rain. There are tables in the courtyard. In the courtyard, there is also a statue of the Little Prince ($20,000) to honor Northport as the birthplace of the Little Prince (photo of statue).

In planning for things such as the courtyard and the cafe, the library used surveys and focus groups. The cafe's having a fireplace was one item that came out of the focus groups. There was also discussion of a statue of a bear, called the library bear (picture in link).

A report was commissioned to place an economic value on the Northport - East Northport Library found it to be an excellent value in the community returning $3.30 for each $1 of taxes invested. In addition, the study determined that the library brought business into the area. The report reads, "Long Island earnings increased by almost $3.7 million and approximately 91 support jobs were created throughout the Long Island economy." It also reads, "The library has become an access point for state-of-the-art technology and a magnet for community gatherings and activities." The Northport - East Northport Public Library mission statement is also available.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Hildy Dworkin, Solo Librarian

On July 16, 2007, Carol Simon brought in Hildy Dworkin to speak with the class about solo librarianship. Hildy works as the Library Director at the NYC Human Resources Administration's McMillan Library, which is a government library. I was particularly interested in Hildy's saying that being a librarian was her second career after ten years as a second and third grade teacher. She graduated from Queens College Graduate School of Library and Information Science in 2000. She revealed that completing her Masters Degree was a five-year work. Her thesis subject was Public welfare. Her Bachelor's Degree was in Early Childhood/Elementary Education. Originally she was involved in music performance.

After 30 years of operation, the McMillan Library had been closed in 1995. Hildy's first task was to reopen the library with more than 20,000 holdings in August of 1999. There are 16,000 employees in New York City government and only one librarian. As a solo librarian, Hildy has a staff of 1 intern. She joined the Special Libraries association (SLC) and their Solo Division to seek out mentors. She currently is the SLA Solo Division Listserv Manager.

Hildy also was a speaker at SLA 2007 for a round table presented by the Government Information Division on the topic Government Librarians Get Savvy, which is reported as follows: Government Info Pro, SLA's Government Information Division, and Libraryola.

In opening a library, you need top approval for everything you do. You cannot use non-public information. You have to get into your publications. You need an Information Management proposal and automation software.

You have to be constantly educating people on what the library has and how it can be of service. Something should be in every newsletter. Offer library research seminars demonstrating important research tools and techniques that will assist staff in their research. Librarians have to market their services and their profession at the same time to increase people's awareness of your services. Hildy told of using the Administration's communication department to create a distinctive library brand, including a logo for the library's website and bookmarks to insert in checked out books. The bookmarks included the librarian's contact information, a brief description of library services, and hours of operations.

Be open to all opportunities. Even requests for help that are outside the immediate focus of the library will provide networking opportunities that will often have big payoffs later. Assisting with fact checking, editing, and offering the use of the library space will serve to increase appreciation for the library and its services. Solo librarians are constantly challenged to demonstrate their worth and value to their organizations. She developed network connections through face-to-face reference interviews with clients, sponsoring training sessions, attending meetings, and accepting new responsibilities that benefit the organization. Always be on the lookout for how to provide the staff with the information they need to do their jobs.

And, yes, Hildy loves her job!