The e-newsletter of the American Library Association | November 21,

U.S. & World News
ALA News
Booklist Online
Philadelphia Update
Division News
Seen Online
Tech Talk
Actions & Answers


AL Buyers Guide

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U.S. & World News

When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?Arizona library grapples with four separate challenges
The board of Chandler (Ariz.) Public Library unanimously decided November 15 to retain two items in the face of patron complaints, and is declining to move two others to different parts of the library collection. All four objections, which are unrelated to each other, were brought shortly before the September 29–October 6, 2007, celebration of Banned Books Week....

Librarians object to abrupt firing of West Virginia archivist
The board of the West Virginia Library Association is considering whether to voice the association’s concern to Gov. Joe Manchin about the abrupt firing November 1 of state archivist Fred Armstrong after 22 years in that post and 30 years at the archives. Although WVLA officials did not plan to issue any statement before their December 4–5 meeting, other librarians and archives patrons across the state are speaking out forcefully about the sudden termination of Armstrong....

ALA News

To Read or Not to ReadALA President reacts to literacy study
“With the release of [the November 19] reading study To Read or Not to Read: A Question of National Consequence, the National Endowment for the Arts issued a call to action,” said ALA President Loriene Roy. “The study’s findings—that reading for pleasure has declined among teens and adults, resulting in lower standardized test scores and poor reading comprehension skills—are proof positive that parents, educators, librarians, and anyone who supports literacy must act now to ensure that future generations see reading as a dynamic, engaging activity.”...

Advocacy Institute logoPaLA to co-sponsor Advocacy Institute
The Pennsylvania Library Association has announced that it will cosponsor the Advocacy Institute, to be held during the 2008 Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia. On Friday, January 11, the Advocacy Institute will cover core advocacy skills, including message development and coalition building....

PBS logoPBS campaign provides partnership opportunities
ALA is working with WGBH Boston on the upcoming national outreach campaign for the film The Truth About Cancer, which will air on PBS in April. In conjunction with the film, WGBH is offering 15 grants to public television stations across the country. ALA and WGBH encourage libraries to reach out to their local PBS stations to collaborate with them on a grant proposal....

Booklist Online logo

Before I DieFeatured review: Media
Downham, Jenny (author); Parry, Charlotte (reader). Before I Die. Sept. 2007. 7hr. Listening Library, CD, (978-0-739-36290-7). Grades 9-12.
The title of this debut novel says it all. Afflicted with leukemia and because “time is not on her side,” British teen Tessa Scott keeps a list of 10 things she wants to do before she dies. She accomplishes the first item (“sex”) pretty quickly and manages to fulfill most of the others (take drugs, break the law, drive a car, become famous) without too much difficulty. Tessa finds love, support, and comfort in a relationship with next-door neighbor Adam. British narrator Parry infuses Tessa with humor, candor, and a freshness that belie the teen’s terminally ill condition....

@ Visit Booklist Online for other reviews and much more....

Philadelphia Update

Edgar Allan PoeSo you think you know Poe?
Maybe you know how the House of Usher fell, what the tell-tale heart told, and the real identity of “Lenore.” But you can’t truly get inside the head of one of America’s foremost writers of the macabre until you’ve visited the Edgar Allan Poe National Historical Site—Poe’s only surviving residence in Philadelphia. Tour the Seventh Street home, browse the reading room, listen to audio of famous actors reading from his work, and buy some memorabilia that will haunt you for a lifetime....
National Park Service

Division News

ASCLA offers course on serving Spanish speakers
ASCLA is offering an internet-based course, “Selecting Spanish-Language Materials for Adults.” The course, which runs from April 7–May 2, is designed to teach attendees how to develop a Spanish-language materials collection....

LITA sponsors Emerging Leader Pressley
The LITA Board is pleased to announce its sponsorship of Lauren Pressley to the ALA Emerging Leaders Program. Pressley is currently the Instructional Design Librarian at Wake Forest University and co-chair of the LITA Distance Learning Interest Group....

Teen Read Week logoTeens pick “Books with Bite @ your library”
More than 1,000 teens across the United States chose “Books with Bite @ your library” as the 2008 Teen Read Week theme, announced YALSA. The theme was chosen in an online vote during Teen Read Week 2007....

A new standard definition of reference?
Given the major changes in libraries today, RUSA has made it a priority to reconsider the definition of “reference.” The official RUSA-approved definition of a reference transaction was adopted in 1984.  Although many different groups and organizations have discussed the issue since then, RUSA has not yet officially adopted a new definition. Members of the Reference Services Section have been working on the issue for years (PDF file) and will present a proposal for a new definition (or reaffirm the existing definition) at the ALA Midwinter Meeting in January....
RUSA Blog, Nov. 14


EBSCO Host logoEBSCO named to “Companies that Matter Most” list
EBSCO Information Services is recognized in the seventh annual EContent 100, EContent magazine’s list of the companies that matter most in the digital content industry. A leader in services for the access and management of electronic journals, e-book and journal packages, and databases, as well as a provider of traditional print subscription services, EBSCO has appeared in the EContent 100 annually since the inaugural list was published in December 2001....
EBSCO, Nov. 15; EContent, Nov. 16

Grow Your Own @ your library
PLA is accepting applications to the the pilot program “Grow Your Own @ your library,” which assists public library staff members working toward a library degree by awarding funds to the employing public library for reimbursement of employee tuition costs. PLA will provide nine public libraries with a lump sum of $8,000 each....
PLA Blog, Nov. 19

Nominees sought for ALA-APA award
The ALA-APA is seeking nominees from both individuals and organizations that have made a positive change in the salaries or status of librarians and/or support staff. The Award Jury is looking forward to receiving the stories of champions that have had a local, regional, or national impact. The deadline for the $5,000 award is December 14....

AL Buyers Guide
Seen Online

It's Perfectly NormalPatron charges library with obscenity
JoAn Karkos, due in court in December to answer a theft charge over a controversial sex-ed book she refused to return to the Lewiston (Maine) Public Library, now wants the library to answer her allegation of obscenity. Karkos, 64, gave Lewiston police a one-page complaint November 19 charging that the library violated the city’s obscenity ordinance when it placed It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris on its shelves. “No. 1, I want awareness,” Karkos said in a phone interview....
Lewiston (Maine) Sun Journal, Nov. 20

Libraries’ efforts to block porn aren’t surefire
The internet filters that Gwinnett County (Ga.) Public Library uses to bar visitors from viewing pornography can’t stop people from finding obscene material. A simple test confirmed that the filtering system can easily be circumvented. The issue of porn in county libraries surfaced when a Lawrenceville woman addressed the Gwinnett County Public Library board last week. Ruth Hardy said a library board member dismissed her complaint about seeing a patron viewing pornography on a computer at the Collins Hill branch....
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Nov. 19

Library secure for kid porn
Investigators routinely use the internet to capture sex offenders, but there’s still a place where online traffickers of child pornography can escape the arm of law enforcement: the public library. Library computers have been used in Colorado and elsewhere as a distribution point for child pornography. Law enforcement officials believe that’s partly because the users know the machines will be flushed clean by library officials as part of their security and privacy measures, making it impossible to track who is sending child pornography....
Denver Post, Nov. 18

London LibraryLost amid the books at the London Library
“The true university of these days is a collection of books,” Thomas Carlyle declared. The grey-haired prophet of Victorian England needed to read like a plant needs light, but had neither the money nor the space for the books he required. There was, of course, the Reading Room of the British Museum, but it gave him “museum headache.” The only solution was to set up his own library, which would allow him to take the volumes home. Reading, Carlyle believed, should be a solitary act, and affordable by all. Hence the birth of the London Library in 1841....
The Telegraph (U.K.), Nov. 15

The biggest library ever built
This digitising of human knowledge is the most profound cultural event since the invention of the printing press itself. In the third century B.C. the librarians of Alexandria sought to collect “books of all the peoples of the world,” and amassed perhaps half a million scrolls. But even the Library of Alexandria was thought to contain perhaps as little as a third of all the books then written....
London (U.K.) Times, Nov. 16

President George BushBush library improves with age
In the 10 years since the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum opened in College Station, Texas, its eponym has traveled the world a few times over and experienced dozens of other museums. And he has taken notes. “Even though he’s 83 years old, he’s embraced technology, and he wanted to see more interactivity in his museum,” says Warren Finch, director of the recently renovated and reopened library on the Texas A&M campus....
Dallas Morning News, Nov. 18

Budget madness attacks libraries
Kelly Egan writes: “Assist me, please. The federal government has so much money it is, dopey-faced, giving billions back in the form of tax relief. The Ontario government has so much money it is balancing budgets and affording people a new holiday in February. And the city of Ottawa? It wants to shut 10 of its 33 libraries as part of a series of measures to bring about a zero tax increase. Actually, don’t assist me. Somebody just shoot me.”...
Ottawa (Canada) Citizen, Nov. 16

Library funding voted down in Colorado
With all the votes now counted, it looks as if the Berthoud (Colo.) Library District funding issue has been defeated. Official results of the 2007 election were posted on the Larimer County website November 16 and showed Berthoud Library District Issue 5C with 1,174 votes “against” and 1,168 votes “for.” Berthoud Library District Issue 5C asked voters to approve paying 2.4 mills in property tax to help fund the new district....
Berthoud (Colo.) Recorder, Nov. 16

Wikipedia logoLibrarian: “Just say no to Wikipedia”
Linda O’Connor regards Wikipedia the same way former first lady Nancy Reagan campaigned against drugs. She urges people to “just say no.” The Great Meadows (N.J.) Middle School librarian hasn’t been a fan of the online encyclopedia for years. This fall, she decided it was time to make others at her school aware of the website’s pitfalls. She put up a sign saying “Just Say No to Wikipedia” over the computers in the school library....
Lehigh Valley (N.J.) Express-Times, Nov. 18

Ocean County LibraryLibrary loses right to retain website name
What’s in a name? For the patrons and officials of the Ocean County Library System in New Jersey, a heck of a lot. Patrons have been accustomed to finding the county library’s official website at However, over the past couple of months, they have instead been directed to a national library resource site. Library administrators did not even realize they had lost the system’s original domain name until October 6, but by that time it was too late....
Manchester (N.J.) Times, Nov. 20

Grass roots effort tries to save Washington school libraries
Supporters of school librarians and library programs have launched a Washington-wide online petition drive to try to save what they believe is an endangered school position. Two parents from the Spokane School District, where budget cuts this year reduced 10 librarian positions to half-time, want librarians and library services included in the state’s definition of a basic education....
Seattle Times, Nov. 20

Free for AllThis librarian’s life isn’t by the book
Free for All: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library aims to do for libraries what Bill Buford’s Heat did for professional cooks in 2006. Author Don Borchert says Buford’s account of working for the celebrated chef Mario Batali shows that “any profession, given a distinct voice, can be interesting.” Borchert, 58, an assistant in a library in a middle-class neighborhood in Torrance, California, acknowledges that a library can be the “dullest place in the world—91% of the time.” He deals with the other 9%....
USA Today, Nov. 19

Tech Talk

Amazon KindleThe future of reading? CEO Jeff Bezos released November 19 the Amazon Kindle, an electronic device that he hopes will leapfrog over previous attempts at e-readers and become the turning point in a transformation toward Book 2.0. That’s shorthand for a revolution (already in progress) that will change the way readers read, writers write, and publishers publish. You can already download books, or even write and publish your own. C|Net was generally positive, BoingBoing decried the $400 price, Tom Boone was intrigued, and Karen Schneider panned it....
Newsweek, Nov. 17; Amazon; C|Net News Blog, Nov. 19; BoingBoing, Nov. 19; Library Laws, Nov. 19; Free Range Librarian blog, Nov. 19

Fast Food My WayCell phones’ latest plot twist
Cell phones aren’t just getting smart. They’re turning into bookworms. Now, cell phones are in the process of adding another feature: the capability of displaying electronic versions of books. Publishers such as Houghton-Mifflin, Simon and Schuster, and Avalon Travel are making deals with specialty firms to produce mobile versions of some of their titles. One of the first titles Houghton-Mifflin hopes to have out by the end of the year is Fast Food My Way by celebrity chef Jacques Pépin....
Chicago Tribune, Nov. 12

Library and Archives Canada logoCanada Web Archive launched
Library and Archives Canada launched the LAC Government of Canada Web Archive on November 20. The Library and Archives of Canada Act received Royal Assent on April 22, 2004, allowing the LAC to collect and preserve a representative sample of Canadian websites. To meet its new mandate, LAC began to harvest the web domain of the Federal Government of Canada starting in December 2005....
Libraries and Archives Canada, Nov. 19

The death of email
Chad Lorenz writes: “Those of us older than 25 can’t imagine a life without email. For the Facebook generation, it’s hard to imagine a life of only email, much less a life before it. I can still remember the proud moment in 1996 when I sent my first email from the college computer lab. It felt like sending a postcard from the future. I was getting a glimpse of how the internet would change everything—nothing could be faster and easier than email. Ten years later, email is looking obsolete.”...
Slate, Nov. 14

BookSnapConsumer “book ripper” introduced
Nate Lanxon writes: “The BookSnap is essentially a large frame complete with a pair of digital cameras. That said, the cameras aren’t included. Providing your arm is up to the task (there’s no automatic page-turner) the BookSnap can photograph up to 500 pages an hour and will output each tome as a handy PDF file. Now, I’ll be frank. When I mentioned this contraption to the C|Net posse, I was brutally rebuffed. But I stand by my opinion that to the people who support Google’s book-scanning project, this is an affordable and speedy way to backup and share rare works.”...
C|, Nov. 15

Actions & Answers

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time IndianNational Book Award winners announced
Denis Johnson took the top prize in the fiction category with his Vietnam-themed novel, Tree of Smoke; Tim Weiner won in nonfiction for Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA; Robert Hass won the poetry award for Time and Materials; and Sherman Alexie took the prize for young people’s literature with The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. The day of the awards ceremony, New York Magazine astutely handicapped Johnson’s victory....
National Book Foundation, Nov. 14; New York Magazine, Nov. 13

Marlboro Man in the school library?
Many schools have blocked access to MySpace and Facebook from school computers since the rise of these social networks in recent years. But earlier this year, the National School Boards Association issued a study recommending that members ease their restrictions on in-school use of social networks and consider how they might be better used in the classroom. The nonprofit Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood slammed the NSBA on Friday, alleging that the study was funded by Microsoft, News Corp., and Verizon Communications—major companies with vested interests in social networks....
C|Net News Blog, Nov. 16

Joint Steering Committee members (from left to right): Tom Delsey; Deirdre Kiorgaard; Hugh Taylor; John Attig; Barbara Tillett; Margaret Stewart; Alan Danskin; Nathalie Schulz.RDA cataloging outcomes posted
Outcomes of the October meeting of the Joint Steering Committee for Development of RDA: Resource Description and Access (the cataloging standards that are scheduled to replace AACR2 in early 2009) have been posted online. The outcomes outline a new organization for RDA agreed upon by the steering committee and the Committee of Principals....
Joint Steering Committee for Development of RDA, Nov. 12

IMLS logoIMLS publishes FY06 state library report
The Institute of Museum and Library Services has issued its first library statistics report on state library agencies in the 50 states and the District of Columbia for state fiscal year 2006. State Library Agencies: Fiscal Year 2006 includes a wide array of information on topics such as libraries’ internet access, services, collections, staff, and revenue, and is used by state and federal policymakers, researchers, and others....
Institute of Museum and Library Services, Nov. 16

Mystery Machine bookcartBookcarts pimped, prizes awarded
The folks at Unshelved have chosen a winner from the 129 entries to their second annual “Pimp My Bookcart” contest, for which libraries decorate a bookcart in the extravagant fashion of their choice. First prize this year went to Timberland High School in Wentzville, Missouri, and their UPS-inspired cart, but the runners-up—including Machesney Park, Illinois, Harlem High School’s “Mystery Machine,” (pictured)—are no less impressive....

Improving online access to your hospital library
Michelle Kraft offers tips on how to get your hospital library online, writing: “As hospital librarians we know that the information we give our patrons is good and it helps save lives, and the idea that our patrons are settling for OK information when somebody’s life is involved disturbs us. But the fact is that this happens and we face losing users as a result.”...
Krafty Librarian blog, Nov. 15

Lee Harvey OswaldJFK assassination footage goes online
Dallas–Fort Worth Fox-TV affiliate KDFW has launched “JFK Video: The Dallas Tapes,” an archive of the channel’s footage of the events surrounding the assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. The footage includes unedited tapes from alleged gunman Lee Harvey Oswald’s on-air assassination and coverage of his 1981 exhumation....

OCLC logoOCLC to open Scotland office
The Programs and Research division of OCLC is opening an office at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and has appointed John MacColl as the representative of RLG Programs to better serve the needs of research libraries and other cultural heritage institutions in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the rest of Europe....
OCLC, Nov. 15

National Libraries of Iran and France to expand cooperation
According to the director of the National Library and Archive of Iran, a memorandum of understanding will be ratified between Iran and the National Library of France. Announcing the start of joint cooperation, Ali Akbar Ash’ari, director of National Library and Archive of Iran and consultant of Iran’s president said, “The initial talks have been made between the directors of the national libraries of both countries.”...
Cultural Heritage News Agency, Nov. 17

ALA, you now have no excuses
Michelle Boule gives her thoughts on ALA moving towards virtual conferences, writing: “The great thing about a conference with virtual content is that many, many more people will have access to it and would be willing to pay for it. I know so very many librarians who can simply not afford to go to an ALA conference, but they could afford $50 of their own money to attend a virtual conference. Bless your heart, ALA, we love you, but you really need to consider these things.”...
A Wandering Eyre blog, Nov. 13

ALA Midwinter Meeting, Philadelphia, logo

ALA Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia, January 11–16. Find out how to sign up for an event that is already full.

Carl Sagan poster

This poster celebrates astronomer and author Carl Sagan, who helped popularize astronomy, astrophysics, and other natural sciences through numerous books—including The Dragons of Eden, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize—as well as the award-winning television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. NEW! From ALA Graphics.

In this issue
November 2007

Cover of October 2007 issue of AL

Immigration and the Right to Read

Ralph Nader on Reading

Vartan Gregorian on Libraries

Rebuilding Afghanistan

ALA’s Ethics Codes

2008 ALA Annual Conference logo

The 2008 ALA Annual Conference website is now live. Join us June 26–July 2 in Anaheim, California.

I Love Libraries

Want to join those smiling faces you see at the top of the site? If you love libraries and would like to let the world know, you can submit your photo to the staff for possible inclusion on the website.

Career Leads from
ALA Joblist logo

Digital Initiatives Librarian, University of Idaho Library, Moscow, Idaho. The library invites applications from innovative and service-oriented individuals for this newly-created position, which will work closely and collaboratively with library and university employees to ensure that the library’s digital initiatives are an integral part of its collections and services....

@ More jobs...

News survey

American Libraries and the ALA Washington Office want to find out how to serve your news needs better. Take this brief survey and tell us how you use the suite of services that the two offices provide.

Take Action logo

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives failed to override the President’s veto of the Senate- and House-passed FY2008 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bill. In order to reach a compromise with the President, the overall numbers in the bill are likely to be cut back and library funding is in danger. It is critical that librarians contact their representatives while they are home over the Thanksgiving recess for the next two weeks, highlighting the importance of federal library funding.

Digital Library of the Week

The Dog's Grand Dinner Party, from the Dame Dingle's series created by John Karst (1836-1922). Bibliographic ID number: UF00000167.

The Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature in the Department of Special Collections at the University of Florida’s George A. Smathers Libraries contains more than 100,000 volumes published in Great Britain and the United States from the early 1700s through the current year. Its holdings of more than 800 early American imprints is the second largest such collection in the United States. The product of Ruth Baldwin’s 40-year collection development efforts, this vast assemblage of literature printed primarily for children offers an equally vast territory of topics for the researcher to explore: education and upbringing; family and gender roles; civic values; racial, religious, and moral attitudes; literary style and format; and the arts of illustration and book design.  

Do you know of a digital library collection that we can mention in this AL Direct feature? Tell us about it.

Public Perception
How the World
Sees Us

“Librarians had not been allowed to purchase new books for two years. Occasionally, human-interest newspaper articles showed that librarians and other staff had responded to the purchasing freeze by donating their own books to the library. Invariably, the authors of these articles heralded the librarians’ patriotic spirit. As he approached the building on foot, Jason Walker wondered if that was the librarians’ sentiment or the newspaper editors’.”

—From My Fellow Americans by Keir Graff (Severn House, 2007), set in a not-so-distant future where most public funding is aimed at an ever-widening war on terror.

John Cotton Dana Award

The John Cotton Dana Awards, sponsored by H. W. Wilson, honors outstanding library public relations, whether a summer reading program, a year-long centennial celebration, fundraising for a new college library, an awareness campaign, or an innovative partnership in the community. The deadline for this $3,000 award is December 6.

Ask the ALA Librarian

question mark

Q. What questions does the ALA Library answer most frequently?

A. We’re glad you asked that question! The ALA Library’s most frequently asked questions are represented by our ALA Library Fact Sheets, which include responses concerning the number of libraries in the United States, book donations, setting up a library, library automation systems, library buildings, library consultants, disaster plans, and weeding library collections. We also address questions concerning books and reading and advise authors and publishers on getting their books into libraries. See the ALA Professional Tips wiki for more....

@ The ALA Librarian welcomes your questions.


Jan. 7–10:

41st Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, “Digital Media: Content and Communication,” Waikoloa, Big Island, Hawaii.

Jan. 9–10:
Metadata and Digital Library Development: an ALCTS and Library of Congress Workshop, Philadelphia.

Jan. 11–16:
ALA Midwinter Meeting, Philadelphia.

Jan. 22:
Blogs, Wikis, and Social Networking: The End of the Web as We Know It?, Newcastle, UK.

Jan. 25–26:
The Object in Transition: A Cross Disciplinary Conference on the Preservation and Study of Modern and Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

Feb. 4–5:
European Web Archive: Web Archiving in Paris, Paris, France.

Feb. 4–8:
The Texas Computer Education Association, 28th Annual Convention and Exposition: “Discover Your Destination,” Austin, Texas.

Feb. 11–15:
Webstock 2008, Wellington, New Zealand.

Feb. 25–Mar. 31:
Power of One: Information Professionals Working Alone, Online.

@ More...

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