Libraries & Archives

Libraries & Archives

Saturday, April 30, 2005

theferrett: Literary Preservation

The ferrett asks you to make a pitch for the one book you would memorize to give to all future generations... a la Fahrenheit 451. Link here: theferrett: Literary Preservation.

Respond quickly if you have a favorite book that's on the popular side!

Friday, April 22, 2005

A new blog person about to be born

Mary wrote me this morning:

Thanks for all the great information giving in response to my post asking for information about blogging. I was asked by several to post what I found out. All of the responses I received were positive. Many were kind enough to share their experiences and the links to their blogs.

It appears to take about 30 minutes of training to learn the basics and up to four hours for more refined techniques. One respondent said “Once everything is set up, blogging can be as easy as sending email. You are essentially typing and adding links to text.” All assured me that keeping up with the blog was not an overwhelming task (which was one of my concerns.)

Many suggested beginning by using “In just a few minutes (really!) and for absolutely free (really!) you can have a blog up and running on the Internet.”

I am going to try it out. I have a meeting scheduled with the IT people next week to get things moving.

Here are some links I was given that are “public” blogs. Others were also shared but were said to be “private” or I’m not sure whether they are public or private. (click on library enews).

Mary L. Hester
Director of Learning Resources
Barton County Community College Library
245 NE 30th Road
Great Bend, KS 67530

Change your thoughts and you change your world....." ~ Norman Vincent Peale ~


Mary, good luck, have fun, and may your blogs shine!


Friday, April 15, 2005

Do Libraries Still Matter?

An extraordinary article, here at the end of National Library Week. Be sure to click on all four pages of the link.

And here's another.

Along Those Lines . . .
In Praise of Library Personell
by George G. Morgan

There seems to be an observance of some sort every week throughout the
year. Many of them are, to me, yawners. However, this past week has
been one of those sparking observances at which every genealogist
should sit up and take notice. This is National Library Week and,
without all those great library personnel, we would be hard-pressed to
locate many of the resources that help advance our research.

Did you know there are more than 117,000 libraries in the United
States? In addition to public libraries in almost every community,
there are thousands of libraries in schools, colleges and universities,
hospitals, law firms, businesses, the armed forces and more! It takes a
lot of people to keep a library functioning, from the library director
and administration (and the government entities that fund them) to the
personnel who maintain the physical facilities.

My primary business is operating a seminar company whose mission is to
provide continuing education to library consortia, professional
librarians, and library staff. My work has brought me in contact with
many thousands of librarians and, in " Along Those Lines . . ." this
week, I want to let you in on what the people you see and the people in
the background in our public libraries do for us.

Reference Librarians
Some people's first thought is that all librarians do all day long is
read books and shelve them. That could not be further from the truth!
Librarians' roles have radically changed in the last 15 years. They are
no longer "just the librarians" that we grew up with; they are now
information specialists whose job is to determine what your needs are
and to try to provide you with access to the best, most appropriate
resources possible.

Reference librarians interview you, asking questions to help clarify
your informational needs, how you plan to use the materials, how
current they need to be, and whether you have a preference in terms of
the media. The media have changed over the last fifteen years and now

* an online public access catalog listing most of the library's
physical resources in the physical building and/or in the entire
library system;
* traditional resources such as books, newspapers, magazines and
journals, newsletters, and other printed materials;
* electronic resources such as CD-ROMs, videotapes, DVDs, books on
tape, music and informational CDs, eBooks from NetLibrary
(, and scanned images of rare or ephemeral resources;
* online databases you can easily search that provide information
at your fingertips, including such topics and materials as genealogy,
maps, atlases, gazetteers, dictionaries and translation dictionaries,
encyclopedias, thesauri, almanacs, Who's Who, history and geography
sources, full-text magazines and newspapers, and more resources to help
genealogists (other databases address health and wellness, medical and
pharmaceutical topics, business and finance, art, music, literature,
and much more for all levels of researchers);
* Internet access terminals open the world to literally billions of
Web pages containing information that may contain the "missing link" to
get you past that brick wall;
* microfilm and microfiche materials, microfilm machines and
printers, electronic microform reader/printer units, photocopy
machines, scanners, wireless connectivity for your laptop or other
devices, and other specialty equipment; and
* a Web site that provides access to all of most of the materials
described above, including "how-to" leaflets and subject guides,
categorized links to Web sites by category, and a plethora of library,
community, and global information.

Further, the reference librarians are professional researchers, nay
information specialists, whose responsibility it is to use their
"global library resources" to locate, access, evaluate, and put you in
contact with the best resources they can find to fulfill your
informational needs.

Circulation Desk Staff
Personnel at the circulation desk in the library aren't just there to
check the library's physical materials out and back in, and to collect
fines on overdue materials. They, too, are trained to address reference
queries from all the patrons. They have an excellent grasp of the
library's resources and have also been trained to locate information of
all sorts and provide you with access to it. While these people may be
swamped with a line of patrons waiting to be taken care of, they may
also politely refer you to another librarian at the reference desk.
They have a very tough job too!

Among the unsung heroes of libraries are those people who catalog each
incoming item and add it to the catalog. They reside in the back room
of the library and physically process each item. They locate an
existing catalog record at a central clearing house, the Online
Computer Library Center (OCLC), if there is one and download it to
their computers. They then customize it as necessary to comply with
their possibly unique cataloging scheme, and enter the record in the
online catalog. These catalog records are later uploaded to OCLC for
inclusion in an online database known as WebCat.

WebCat is used to locate which libraries have which resources. Your
library can help you make arrangements to process an Interlibrary Loan
(ILL) request, or the librarian may refer you to the closest library
with that item, especially if it is a non-circulating item, which is
what most genealogical collection materials are.

In addition, before any new item is placed on a shelf or rack in the
library, it is placed in a protective dust cover and the appropriate
catalog reference number is affixed to the spine so that the item is
consistently re-shelved or refilled properly.

Inter-Library Loan Staff
Another behind-the-scenes person, or group of staff, you may not know
about are those who process your ILL requests. They locate items,
initiate the request to the other library, track its status, follow up
as required, and process the request when it is received. You may
receive a phone call or a postcard when the ILL item(s) arrive at your
library. This is a very time-consuming process, but it allows you to
extend your research reach and range to other libraries, both across
the country and around the world.

Collection Development Staff
Every library is faced with funding and space issues. Certainly they
cannot afford to purchase everything, nor could the library afford to
catalog and shelve every item. That is one reason that ILL is so
important, especially to genealogists.

Libraries do their best to be responsive to their patrons' requests and
needs. The collection development staff is responsible for evaluating
those needs based on a variety of criteria. Have you ever wondered why
you are asked not to re-shelve or replace items in the collection? The
library is collecting statistics on usage of specific items and
therefore groups of items. These statistics, along with specific
requests and recommendations by library personnel and patrons, are used
to develop a collection development budget and determine what items can
and cannot be ordered. Don't be surprised if you are from Connecticut
and visit a library in Muskogee, Oklahoma, that does not have The
Connecticut Nutmegger in its collection. There may simply not be the
demand for the library to subscribe to that publication because there
are few Connecticut researchers among its patrons. A subscription to
Ancestry Magazine may be a much better choice for the overall
genealogical patron popula!

Pages and Volunteers
Pages are not really professional librarians. Rather, they are charged
with re-shelving materials and/or with retrieving materials from
otherwise closed stacks of materials. Their service is invaluable too
because they are doing the legwork that allows the reference and
collection librarians to remain available to help you.

Volunteers from the community also are priceless, often performing
services for the library with which they are highly proficient. Let me
share two examples. First, in the library in Vero Beach, Florida, one
volunteer, with no genealogical experience or interest, volunteers
several days a week expressly to use a scanned to digitize rare or
fragile documents. The originals can be stored and preserved while
still providing access to the items. In the Freedom Branch of the
Marion County, Florida, Public Library, a retired gentleman volunteers
to teach Microsoft products to patrons one afternoon a week.

The IT Staff
Let's not forget the Information Technology (IT) staff whose
responsibility it is to set up and maintain the computer network, and
to repair or replace computers. Without their help, we might have
significant outages of catalog and Internet computers. Some of these
people travel many miles to branch libraries to keep the whole system
running smoothly.

Friends of the Library
Speaking of volunteers, Friends of the Library organization contribute
hundreds of hours and, in some cases, financial assistance to the
library or library system with which they have affiliated themselves.
They staff bookstores, host fund-raising events, give promotional talks
in the community, and provide strong support to the library. Some
libraries even have a chapter of Junior Friends of the Library, middle-
and high-school students who pitch in to help support their libraries.

You Never Know . . .
There are many people and activities that go into making a library
operate smoothly and provide the information clearing house on which we
all have come to rely. One week of the year to commemorate libraries
doesn't even begin cover our celebration of libraries and their
personnel. Give your librarians and staff members a gracious "thank
you" when you next visit. They will truly appreciate it!

Happy Hunting!

Since it's my profession, chosen late in life, but chosen, it's great to hear good stuff about it!


This man is an inspiration


The "dear reader" lady waxes poetical.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Living with Databases

I was just reading an old promotional piece, typewritten so I don't even know if it was ever used, about the l.W. Nixon Library. In it, the author pointed out that "On-line searches of information data bases nationwide are available to students at cost..." (Nov.2, 1990). Years earlier, a Jan. 24, 1986 article from The El Dorado Times, quoted Mrs. Waltman, the library supervisor, "The campus library now has the capability of doing computer research into more than 300 data bases in the nation."

Well, we've still got them. Of course, the library doesn't do the research, the students do. And the cost is no longer direct, but is folded into our budget. In fact we have many more databases, as they in turn got folded into enormous aggregators like EBSCO and ProQuest.

Currently we're looking at understanding what a federated database search tool would do for our students. It would mean you'd enter one keyword search and the search would be conducted across all of our subscription databases, rather than having to hop from one to another. Kind of like a google for the library.

Well, we are also looking at a trial for some new databases from Thompson-Gale:

Associations Unlimited
Biography and Genealogy Master Index
Biography Resource Center
Book Review Index Online Plus *
Business & Company Resource Center
Consulta (Spanish language)
Corbis Images for Education
Discovering Collection
Eighteenth Century Collections Online
Gale Virtual Reference Library (with xrefer plus)
Health & Wellness Resource Center
History Resource Center — U.S.
History Resource Center — World
Informe (Spanish language)
InfoTrac OneFile
InfoTrac Religion & Philosophy
Junior Reference Collection
Kids InfoBits
Literature Resource Center
LitFinder *
Military and Intelligence Database
Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center
Science Resource Center *
Student Resource Center
Testing & Education Reference Center
The Making of Modern Law *
Times Digital Archive
What Do I Read Next?
*Added to this year's collection

See if there's anything you like... but if you are in database overload, just wait a few months and I'll see what I can do for you.


Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Back in the Library

Hi, all,

I'm back home in the library today after a solid two weeks away at Library Conference. I'll be working today at catching up on signatures, phone messages, and about 200 emails that showed up while Judy and I were traveling home yesterday and Sunday afternoon.

I now have plenty of admiration for those who do convention blogging. It's a hard thing to conceive of finding time after (during?) hours and hours at programs, workshops, keynotes and conversations with fellow convention-goers. Not to mention meals and a few moments of nightlife! I even managed to get a couple of workouts in over the last week (after failing miserably the first week of convention). But to imagine writing a blog during all that, dealing with occasional wireless access and fatigue was beyond me.

I will share that the highlight for me was the google guy - one of the Seattle staff, a Hugh Grant look-a-like who came in Sunday morning to talk about google-scholar and the new digital projects. They certainly have vision, the google folks, and their development time is very fast (and probably measured in nanoseconds rather than the geologic time of some institutions, mine not included).

More later. Glad to be back. Singing off,