Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Poet Laureate, Kay Ryan

I subscribed to the Library of Congress's blog. I generally find the posts witty and interesting, a light and refreshing break to the day. Today's post was about new poet laureate, Kay Ryan. The LC blogger, Matt Raymond, clearly appreciates her and her work, so I thought I'd take a peek. I'm not generally a poetry fan, but I enjoyed it. You might want to check it out too, and perhaps share it with aspiring poets and poetry lovers alike.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Cuil. The new Google?

A friend just told me about Cuil (an Irish word pronounced "cool"), a new search engine that her middle-school-aged son said was "the new Google." I don't know if it is, or not, but it claims to have crawled three times as many pages as Google, and has an interesting layout for results. Personally, I'm kind of impressed that it launched yesterday and already a teen in Juneau knows about it.

So far, I haven't been able to find the advanced search operators, although they claim that they are especially good for complex queries. But I like their privacy policy, and see no ads, yet.

Will Cuil knock Google off it's pedestal? I don't know, but it seems like it might at least be a good one to watch.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Sirsi Unicorn: how to have multiple windows open at one time

We recently had an outbreak of a minor but annoying problem in the Sirsi WorkFlows staff client here at UAA. It took the form of an error message from Unicorn WorkFlows telling the staff user There are open wizards that require attention. Please close the wizards. For the folks in tech services, who often have several windows open during their WorkFlows sessions, it was a real time-waster to have to interrupt their flow, find a hidden window, and close it.

The problem only occurred if the staff person was using the themed interface that was delivered with WorkFlows Java client 3.0 and later. If you are having this problem, follow these instructions:

1) Open WorkFlows
2) Click Preference in the topmost menu bar
3) Choose Desktop, then Desktop Setup
4) Find the "Multiple windows mode" checkbox at the bottom
5) Check it
6) Click "OK"
7) Restart WorkFlows.

As a side note, when I said "… an error message from Unicorn WorkFlows… " I was being quite literal. I knew what application generated the error by the name in the title bar of the error message (e.g., "Unicorn WorkFlows"). When you report an error to a systems person, it is often helpful if you can also tell them "who" it is from. If the message had been from Windows XP, for instance, we would know to start looking there for the cause of the problem instead of in WorkFlows itself.

Even if systems doesn't need that bit of information for a given situation, you are sending them a subliminal message that you are doing your bit to help find a solution. And systems people need all the messages like that they can get.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Libraries as Anti-Depressants?

I subscribe to Hold This Thought, a daily blog/podcast featuring quotes from books that have touched various people. According to their about page, Hold This Thought was started through grants from the Alaska Humanities Forum and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

I think the blog features great books and great thoughts nearly every day, but I am highlighting the July 15, 2008 episode because libraries are all about lifelong learning. In this episode, Wayne Mergler shares this quote from the Once and Future King:

"The best thing for being sad," replied Merlyn..."is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honor trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then -- to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the thing for you."

And what better place for people to learn at their local library? So the next time you're feeling blue or overwhelmed by life, try learning something new at the library. But if you feel down for more than two weeks or have some of the symptoms from the Medline Plus article on Depression at, consider getting professional help.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Good Idea for Subscription Evalutions

Back in June, the Rainbird Librarian at Ketchikan public library wrote about how she determined the popularity of magazines in a post at

As part of the decision-making process, I go through and count how many times each issue of each magazine has been read and/or checked out (one of the reasons we ask people to leave magazines on the tables rather than reshelving them is because we keep count of this use).

Based on this process, she has ranked 109 serial publications at the library according to their usage. Most popular magazine? Fine Homebuilding followed by National Geographic. See her post for more results.

This seems like a very user way of making choices about what must stay and what could go in a pinch. It's an idea I might run by people in my library to see if we could make it work here. One measure we use is requests for articles from our state employee table of contents service.

Do you measure magazine/journal usage at your library? If so, how?

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

More than 120 books in just 3 weeks!

That's how many books that were read by Delta Junction children through the Catch the Reading Bug summer reading program. For a picture of some of the happy children, please see the July 7, 2008 Photo of the Day from Delta Community News.

Congratulations Joyce and the rest of the people involved with this program!

How's the summer reading program doing at your library?


Monday, July 07, 2008

True Then, True Now - What Libraries Do

During a recent research project, I came across this article from AkLA's newsletter:

Libraries: Alaska built.
DeForest, Emily.
Sourdough 1987, v. 24, no. 4 (Winter 1987) p. 7.

One paragraph about the role of libraries in communities really struck me as being just as true today as it was 21 years ago:

Libraries, and the buildings they are in, are a vital part of the state economy and the upturn thereof. Libraries encourage tourism by offering programs geared directly for the tourist. Libraries also assist in the many programs for the blind and handicapped. Libraries offer state and federal documents on economics, job hunting, careers, and education, all of these readily available for perusal by the public. Libraries offer educational assistance to students, story hours and reading programs for the younger set, family type film programs, discussion groups, and many, many other services over and above the lending of books, phonodiscs, tapes, etc. Libraries are among the first community facilities investigated by prospective residents.

The main correction to the above statement would be that thanks to local and state investments in remote databases like the Digital Pipeline and Homework Help, people can reap many of the benefits of the library without leaving home. But our buildings are still vibrant places as described above. Just with more media types.

At least that's true for my library. What about yours?

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Sunday, July 06, 2008

Copyright Slider now available free online

Those of you who attended my copyright session at the '08 AkLA conference or stopped by the Copyright Advisory Network (CAN) poster session may remember the copyright sliders made available by the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy. These handy tools simplify the process of determining whether or not a work is in the public domain, and they were quite popular. Well, if you didn't get one at conference, or even if you did, you are now in luck: they are now available online!

To use the digital sliders, simply use your mouse to drag the red arrow to the year (or range) when the item in question was published or written, and it will let you know if it is under copyright, in the public domain, or (alas, even here) maybe either. It also provides information on any caveats or other information you may need to know.

If the slider doesn't answer your copyright questions, try checking out the CAN website.

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

ALA Presentation Materials Available Online

If you couldn't make it to ALA or wanted to relive fun sessions, then check out ALA's page for 2008 Annual Conference program materials at

Some materials are already up, and more will be up in the next week or two. I can't wait to see Joe Janes'/OCLC bloggers LITA talk on "Isn't It Great to be in the Library, Whereever that is."

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