November 29, 2003

Help the Poor Struggler: Lightweight RSS Posting?

See Dan Gillmor's request, as he experiments with "headline news" via a Handspring Treo 600: "My blogging software doesn't give me an easy way to make a quick posting into just those two fields [title and entry], with an extremely low-bandwidth page that's easily readable on the handheld." He also wants a quick way to add a photo grabbed by the same handheld. Smells like a Movable Type plugin to me. This kind of headline posting would be a natural application for libraries (imagine "this week's new mysteries" or "program cancelled due to snow").

Part of the joy of RSS: all those little notices eventually (often quickly) go away. Part of my concern: I'm just waiting for someone to figure out how to hork up RSS the way sp*m horked up e-mail.

Posted by kgs at 11:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 28, 2003

Librarians Want to Know...

Had Thanksgiving with a large group of librarians, and we finally focused on one key reference question: can anyone prove or disprove the story that Lynn Cheney wrote lesbian pulp fiction?

(Not that there's anything wrong with that...)

Posted by kgs at 10:11 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 26, 2003

Bancroft Break-In: Are We Ready for Prime Time?
A computer break-in at Bancroft Library (UCB) highlights one of my concerns about RFID: many library servers aren't secure to begin with--and that, hand in hand with a potent technology such as RFID (full disclosure: I don't have any indication Bancroft plans to implement RFID), could lead to compromised user privacy. You can read more about this in testimony I submitted last week to a congressional hearing (also attended by the Electronic Frontier Foundation). (I would have been there myself, but a server crashed and took me with it.)

Posted by kgs at 10:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 25, 2003

OCLC, Library Hotel Settle Differences

Was I the only one to wonder why OCLC would raise such a kerfuffle over this small issue while negotiating with Google over a deal related to dumping a gadzillion OCLC records (created by its members, no less) into the Google database?

Posted by kgs at 11:45 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

OCLC Research Feed: Be Still, My Geeky Heart

Oh, tasty treat, for those who never metadata they didn't like! The office of OCLC Research has its own feed:

Posted by kgs at 11:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 24, 2003

Two Blogs of Note

Very few narrative blogs are good enough to capture my attention, but my finicky standards are met by The Laughing Librarian
and the blog for the Lipstick Librarian

I particularly like the "filtered" version of The Laughing Librarian, and I appreciate Linda Absher's willingness to let it all hang out (and her ability to do that in a way that reminds me of other great female humorists, such as Erma Bombeck).

Posted by kgs at 09:49 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 23, 2003

Dan Robinson on the Patriot Act

Dan Robinson recounts his family's history with FBI investigations, in a lively thread about whether "it can happen here" ("it" meaning aggressive enquiries into personal reading behavior).

Posted by kgs at 07:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 22, 2003

Must-Read: Corn-Revere on CIPA

In "A Missed Opportunity" (Cato Supreme Court Review, Sept 2003), Bob Corn-Revere offered a fresh (and highly readable) take on CIPA. Not only is his reasoning lucid and original, but for the first time since July, I felt a spark of hope on this issue. "The public forum doctrine, which originated as a way to preserve a 'First Amendment easement' for private speakers on public streets and sidewalks, is not well-suited to the task of analyzing restrictions imposed on public institutions that are designed for the purpose of disseminating information."

Posted by kgs at 10:35 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 21, 2003

Hayden on the Patriot Act

The current ALA pres came up and swinging with a powerful statement submitted to a Judicial Committee Hearing, "America After 9/11: Freedom Preserved or Freedom Lost?" Yet another reason why I want Santa to bring me a Carla Hayden Action Figure.

Posted by kgs at 10:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 20, 2003

Mere Entertainment: One of those Librarian Moments

In a Web4Lib thread responding to a rather acerbic article about libraries from the Philadelphia Weekly, there was a great post from Suellen Stringer-Hye, reminding us with a few words and a link of Ted Hughe's wonderful poem about libraries.

Even the most misfitting child
Who's chanced upon the library's worth,
Sits with the genius of the Earth
And turns the key to the whole world.

This somewhat makes up for the painful moment at last night's Neighborhood Council meeting, where a community member demanded to know what percentage of the library's circulation is fiction, and then accused the library of providing "mere entertainment."

Fortunately, everyone else in the room rolled eyes and shuffled feet, clearly not in concert with this shaggy fool. (Perhaps someone could show him that inside the books, there are words in addition to pictures.)

I have heard many variations of "mere entertainment." Perhaps what it really means for all but the most stubbornly cretinous is "I don't understand what you offer." I cannot believe we don't really have something these people are looking for; we just haven't discovered what it is, and how to let them know we have it.

As with any life experience, everyone sees libraries through their own lenses, filtered through their needs and shortcomings and memories and unfulfilled desires. As a director of a very small rural library, I heard that the library carried too much fiction, not enough fiction, far too many childrens' books, not enough for the kids, and never the right magazines. I finally decided this fairly consistent feedback was praise, our own patrons' version of Oliver Twist leaning forward with his bowl, begging, "Please, sir, I want some more."

Posted by kgs at 07:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 19, 2003

Cal Freedom: A New Blog

This is to alert FRL's readership that the members of the Intellectual Freedom Committee of the California Library Association have established their own informal, unofficial blog, Cal Freedom. Find it at:

Posted by kgs at 01:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 18, 2003

Getting Started with RSS: The Fifteen-Minute Tutorial

By popular demand, this is a short introduction to RSS, a tool for tracking headlines and new content on Web sites. This tutorial uses Bloglines, a free, Web-based RSS aggregator (reader).

RSS is a bit baffling at first. Once you step in, though, you'll have an immediate "ah hah." These directions were written to get you from baffled to "ah hah" in less than fifteen minutes.

RSS Tutorial

In this brief tutorial, following a brief explanation of RSS, you'll get signed up to the feed (the headlines for new entries) for Resource Shelf, Gary Price's invaluable site for staying up to date on a wide variety of Internet resources. (You can always unsubscribe to it later, in seconds, if it's not your cup of tea.) Then learn about several related tools for using RSS, including several good finding aids for locating other feeds.

What the Heck is RSS?

I love RSS (the acronym means various things, but my favorite definition is "Really Simple Syndication"). Using this new Internet headline service, I can track all kinds of news provided by new and familiar sources, from Dilbert to the New York Times, without filling up my e-mail box or tying a string around my finger to check various Web sites. The news comes to me as headlines and brief abstracts (with one-click access to the entire article) through my RSS reader (aggregator).

I. Using an Aggregator for the First Time

1. Go to and set up a (free) account

2. Now you need an RSS feed to add to Bloglines. Bloglines will suggest a few. I unsubscribed to most of those and looked for my own. There are various RSS finding aids, but let's just focus on Resource Shelf for now, unless you have a few more that interest you.

If you look at Gary's site,, you will see an orange button on the lower left-hand side that says "XML." That's a link to a funny-looking file:

That's the address to the RSS feed. This is the address you will use in step 3 to add to Bloglines.

3. Now let's add this feed to Bloglines.

Inside Bloglines, go to:

Manage Subscriptions

Follow this link, and where it says:



(the entire URL, including the "resource.xml" part)

Then click the "Subscribe" button.

(For right now, don't worry about OPL or Folder. You can learn about those later.)

4. Read the Feed

Now you can read headlines and summaries from the blogs you are subscribed to. (Some blogs supply you with the full text of their entries, and some blogs, such as Dilbert, provide images, as well.)

You should now be at the main reading window for Bloglines. Resource Shelf will be on the left, in the subscription pane. Click on the title (it is probably bolded). The summaries of the feeds display on the right.

II. Tools for Finding Blogs and Feeds

Want to try other aggregators? To start with, try Newzcrawler and Amphetadesk. Most aggregators are clients (software you install on your computer); some, like Bloglines, are Web-based tools.

To Find More Feeds...

Random good luck: sites will often advertise their RSS feed with a link labeled "Syndicate" or a small rectangular orange icon that says "XML."

Use to find library-related feeds.

Med librarians, take note: provdes RSS feeds for PubMed.

Places to find more feeds include:


You can use Bloglines, Daypop, and Moreover to create custom search feeds (and this capability is showing up all over).

Bon appetit!

Posted by kgs at 08:21 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

November 17, 2003

She Who LAFs Last...

Here's Roberto Esteves, reunited with his Action Figure! Be sure to read on...

As I passed through airport security tonight, the guard stopped me on the other side of the gate and asked, "do you have a little man in your bag?" In my exhausted befuddlement, I failed to conduct an appropriate reference interview, and responded automatically, "no, I don't have a little man in my bag." (Besides, that's the kind of question I would automatically deny, as it sounds too much like "do you have a 14-inch-high Taliban operative in your bag that you're smuggling on to this Southwest flight?")

The guard stopped, brow furrowed, and emphasized, "I really hope you have a little man in your bag." At that point I realized she was referring to the Librarian Action Figure, which I immediately yanked out and handed to her with a flourish. She roared with laughter and waved the doll in front of her colleagues; they all "shushed" for a minute, faces wreathed in smiles.

I admit it--it was a proud moment. Some of you get your noses out of joint because we are perpetuating the stereotype of the friendly if nerdy reading advocate. Frankly, show me the airport security guards who think it's fun or complimentary to imitate trial lawyers or dermatologists.

We're going to need all the LAFs we can get in the next few months. With the elimination of the vehicle tax, California librarians need to get creative el pronto about advocating for better funding, or frankly, we're hosed. Stop worrying about our Books in the City personae, and figure out how to turn our very good public perception into serious dollars and cents.

Posted by kgs at 08:01 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

TCO of Filtering: Who Knows? Anyone?

CIPA compliance needs much better TCO (Total Cost Of Ownership) analysis than we've seen to date. Some libraries have determined that compliance with CIPA--including convoluted responses to adult permissions issues--isn't worth it, financially. It would be great for libraries to speak up (anonymously, if it suits their needs) and talk to others about what their own TCO analyses yielded and how that affected their decisions.

Libraries, feel free to comment. (Actually, that should be "librarians," as buildings rarely speak for themselves.)

Posted by kgs at 07:38 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

November 16, 2003

CLA Con-Grunt: Meetings 'n' Stuff

Members of the IFC chatted up some key issues this morning that are just too good to leave behind at the conference...

First, committees need more than an hour to meet. We barely got through introductions before the meeting time was over. We may have to self-start this issue ourselves next year, by intentionally choosing to meet longer and/or at a different time than the one-hour slot, but the point is very well taken.

Second, roundtables and committees need to meet at different times. And that doesn't even get into helping CLA members understand the distinction between roundtables and committees. The IFRT has been dormant for years in part because of this problem. And when roundtable members DO show up, far too much of the meeting is spent explicating the RT/committee distinction. (This is far from just a CLA problem. I saw it in NYLA and it happens in ALA as well.)

Posted by kgs at 12:04 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 15, 2003

Rock the (Barbie) Vote!'s career choices are now down to three choices:

A Librarian
An architect
A policewoman

Get on that site and tell Mattel--Barbie is born for librarianship!

Posted by kgs at 05:26 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

LAF Liberated

In a late-morning rescue action, Roberto Esteves and I tracked down and released the Librarian Action Figure and her display case from where she had been held in captivity in a nearby booth.

Thanks to all of you who shared your concern and support with us during this difficult period.

Posted by kgs at 03:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

CLA Con-Grunt: THEFT of Librarian Action Figure

A display case featuring the Librarian Action Figure, which Califa is selling at a discount, was stolen overnight from the Califa booth (502) at the CLA convention. How pathetic can you get?

If you have any information about this theft, post a comment or write me privately at kgs [at] If you are the hard-hearted person who did this dastardly deed, please just leave the display case somewhere near the lobby of the Marriott.

And if you're at CLA, stop by and offer your condolences to Roberto Esteves! He was justifiably proud of the honor bestowed on her royal highness, who looked quite smart in her display case. (Sales of this doll are quite brisk. Get them now while they last!)

Posted by kgs at 10:59 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 14, 2003

Educating CIPA

I've been working on a top-ten list about CIPA and filtering, trying to boil down the ten points I'd like to get across to librarians and stakeholders regardless of their status with respect to this issue. This is a bloggish draft; I welcome input and thoughts.

1. Filters block Constitutionally-protected speech. This is a fact not disputed in the CIPA decision. (The Court reasoned that disabling filters on request was an adequate remediation for this problem.)

2. CIPA only applies to E-Rate (and in some cases LSTA), and only applies for Internet connection costs. CIPA has no impact on libraries not accepting E-Rate or LSTA, or only accepting E-Rate or LSTA money for costs unrelated to Internet connections.

3. CIPA, as described in the law and unchallenged by the FCC, requires libraries to filter all computers, for staff as well as the public.

4. The Supreme Court believes it is easy for librarians to disable filters on a case-by-case basis.

5. The CIPA decision and subsequent FCC and IMLS interpretations did not clarify whether adults are legally entitled to unfiltered access on request.

6. Filters hide blocked sites in encrypted lists, eliminating accountability on their end and sunshine on our end. This was not discussed in the CIPA decision and is probably irrelevant as far as future court cases are concerned (which does not make this point unimportant).

7. At least one Supreme Court justice reasoned that litigation at the local level is an appropriate mechanism for sorting out the fuzzier areas of CIPA compliance, which raises the spectre of at least one “Son of Loudoun.”

8. CIPA did nothing to clarify First Amendment law with respect to public libraries and similar institutions, and in fact may have significantly muddied the law through its emphasis on “public forums” at the expense of exploring the less trafficked territories of "restrictions imposed on public institutions that are designed for the purpose of disseminating information," as discussed in "A Missed Opportunity," Bob Corn-Revere's article in the September issue of the Cato Supreme Court Review.

9. Because E-Rate is an after-service reimbursement, creative solutions to CIPA filtering requirements are somewhat of a crapshoot. The technical aspects of “disabling” Internet filters were not addressed in CIPA, and the FCC did not clarify. This means it is unknown, to use two commonly-discussed examples, if it is CIPA-compliant to allow adult users to disable filters through a signed form or through self-selection on a Web screen.

10. It may seem that every library in the world is filtering, but that's not the case at all. Many libraries have chosen not to filter (and remember, CIPA doesn't give libraries much latitude for filtering--it's all or nothing). We don't hear about these libraries because staying low-profile is a strategy, but nonetheless, if you aren't filtering all or most of the computers in your library, you are not alone.

Posted by kgs at 10:20 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

New Intellectual Freedom Award

I am pleased to announce that following unanimous vote by the California Library Association Executive Committee, CLA has a new award. The Zoia Horn Intellectual Freedom Award honors Zoia Horn, "who in 1973 chose to serve time in jail rather than betray confidential patron information."

The award statement continues, "Ms. Horn's experience sets an example of integrity over personal comfort, and has been a model discussed in library literature and shared with generations of library students everywhere. A key goal of the Zoia Horn Intellectual Freedom Award is to celebrate and honor other selfless examples of commitment to intellectual freedom that help preserve free speech in an open society."

Californian individuals, groups, and organizations are eligible for this award; the award seeks to recognize "significant contributions to intellectual freedom in California," but the scope of impact may be broader. This award may be awarded annually (but there is no requirement to do so in years when no outstanding candidate is available). Nominations are made by the state IFC by November 1, and the award will be announced at the annual conference.

This award--the product of a year of effort by the state IFC--is another way we in our profession can thank the risk-takers and leaders who help fight for the right to read.

Posted by kgs at 10:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 13, 2003

Thursday Was Hell

(Thursday's entry was a victim of a very bad technology siege involving a motherboard. Don't ask.)

Posted by kgs at 09:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 12, 2003

Filtering: The Low-Down Truth

Since CIPA was upheld, I've been asked to write and present about filtering, to help libraries make choices. Finally, after a lot of thought, I've turned down all these requests, and it's because I have to be true to myself, and continue speaking the truth as I know it. My best advice hasn't changed in seven years. Filters are bad news.

I've had a fairly consistent message (or so I thought) about the weaknesses and limitations of filtering software. I sympathize with managers forced between a rock and a hard spot, and in the past I have provided as much advice as possible to help people who needed to evaluate filtering software.

But what I'm not going to do is put myself in the position--even implied--of endorsing the concept that filtering is a good thing. It's not. I grappled hands-on with the software for years in order to be able to develop this mile-high view, and nothing has budged me from this conclusion, because it's so fundamental to how filters work. Internet content filters block access to Constitutionally protected speech, and do so in a way that removes accountability from the vendor and control from the buyer. This is a Bad Thing.

I'm not a knee-jerk absolutist on access issues (and as I stated in American Libraries not too long ago, absolutism killed us in the courts). If you're four years old, I don't care if your speech is blocked (and if your parents don't want to make that decision, I'll be only to happy to make it for them in a manner that is friendliest to adult library access). If you're forty, I care a lot. If you're fourteen, I care, but I understand that adolescence is a legal and cultural battleground.

But I'm also not Dr. Strangelove. I'm never going to love the bomb. You go ahead, if you need to. Bring in the "experts" to tell you how to "select" filters, prop a couple of vendors on the dais, and make your decisions. It's a tough world, and money is useful. I have said from Day 1 that managers should always be given enough rope to hang themselves with.

I'll keep on with my message, and I won't dilute it or confuse it by appearing to help anyone "choose" a filter. Internet content filters block access to Constitutionally protected speech. Filters are bad news. That's why we fought CIPA and COPA. We lost, but we were still right.

Decades from now, we'll look back at our primitive, panicked decisions, and wonder what all the fuss was about. But if you are waiting for me to love the bomb, pack a lunch and bring a blanket, because you're going to have to wait until Hell freezes over.

Posted by kgs at 07:03 AM | Comments (23) | TrackBack

November 11, 2003

RFID in My Underpants?

From Politech: this past Sunday, the Chicago Sun Times reported that "Wal-Mart and Procter & Gamble conducted a secret RFID trial involving Oklahoma consumers earlier this year. ... Customers who purchased P&G's Lipfinity brand lipstick at the Broken Arrow Wal-Mart store between late March and mid-July unknowingly left the store with live RFID tracking devices embedded in the packaging. Wal-Mart had previously denied any consumer-level RFID testing in the United States."

But wait, there's more! Politech added, "early this year, CASPIAN [an anti-RFID advocacy group] called for a worldwide boycott of Italian clothing manufacturer Benetton when the company announced plans to equip women's undergarments with live RFID tracking tags (see"

This is where it all ties into librarianship: I'm convinced the Librarian Action Figure's long blue dress is actually a foil-lined anti-RFID protection garment. Scorned by so many jeune fille librarians (not to mention those who are no longer so jeune and really should start revisiting their wardrobe options--you know who I mean!) , the LAF's on us--because all along our demure blue doll has been modeling 21st-century privacy survival methods.

For that matter, we should listen to LAF, because ultimately, what's going on with RFID is not that funny. As a profession, we're walking into RFID without having first done our homework: establishing best practices, nailing down vendors about our needs, and writing the specs we can live with--or deciding to delay RFID implementations until we have done more to ensure our patrons' long-term privacy needs are met. We're stumbling into RFID with about the same level of naivete we had about filtering.

This is not a simple "RFID Bad" rant. It's more of a riff on how we wander into these new technologies first, and ask questions later. And sometimes, late might as well be never.

Re-read that Politech post. And remember Deep Throat's advice: "follow the money."

Posted by kgs at 02:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 10, 2003

MT Plugin Manager

Yesterday I spent a good chunk of time horsing around with the new MT Plugin Manager, which offers vastly simplified installation and one-stop management for a slew of plugins available for Movable Type.

I used the Plugin Manager to install four plugins; I implemented one, Entry, which I used to create the "Current Hot Topic" feature on Free Range Librarian. Using the Plugin Manager was faster and easier than downloading a plugin, extracting it, uploading it into the correct directories, and so forth. Plugin Manager automates the process so it's fast and (a few bugs nothwithstanding) relatively foolproof.

I understand that many authors whipped up these plugins for other code-savvy MT fans, and they don't need extensive documentation. Still, I'd like to see more examples of some of the plugins. RSS Feed comes to mind; I have it installed but have no idea how to implement it, even though I have a pretty good idea what it does. I was also disappointed that Photo Gallery didn't work; I posted a note with the Bug Tracker.

But overall, MT Plugin Manager is terrific. If you like Movable Type plugins, this resource is a must.

Posted by kgs at 10:38 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 09, 2003

Amazon's Search Inside the Book

This is sort of a con-grunt from Internet Librarian 2003, but not specific to any one program. I heard repeated reference from presenters and keynoters to the significance of Amazon's new "Search Inside the Book" feature, confirming my own gut reaction that this is big, really big, in ways we don't yet understand or appreciate.

I'm going to be writing about "Search Inside the Book" for LJ; I owe them a small bucket of words by November 24. If you have thoughts about this capability--it's the best thing since beer in cans, it's the final death knell of librarianship, it's irrelevant, your mother really likes it--either comment below I'll follow up with questions to you), or reach me at kgs [at] bluehighways dot com.

Posted by kgs at 10:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

IL Con-Grunt: Final Kibbles and Bits

Tidbits from other programs...

The Webmaster Program

Saw a terrific javascript trick for spamproof email... it temporarily eludes my grasp... but I bet it starts making the rounds.

Recommended "Designing with Web standards," saying it is "a good book for arguing about working with standards."

Reading: Adaptive Path: short essay on the business benefits of standards compliance


Best new idea: create personas that represent your "typical" users


This preconference was very chewy--not really something to summarize in a blog. Roy Tennant did a great job teaching it. The key point I can get across is "if you haven't figured this out yet, XML is important."

Posted by kgs at 08:12 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 08, 2003

Look, I Have a Digital Camera

My Shoe

Posted by kgs at 09:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Happy Birthday, Marylaine!

Today is Marylaine Block's birthday. I only found this out because Library Stuff reported that it's MY birthday. Hey, those young'uns can't tell us old farts apart! Happy Birthday, Marylaine!

Posted by kgs at 08:54 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

IL Con-Grunting: Rich Wiggins on "Why Google Won"

The sad news was Gary Price couldn't make it to IL 2003, due to a hospitalization (he won't miss his gall bladder, and he's feeling much better).

The good news was his replacement, Rich Wiggins, gave a boffo talk. I can't replicate the whole talk, of course--Wiggins is his own dynamic universe--but here are some gems; not all revelations, but all worth repeating.

In 2002, Google overtook Yahoo in referrals to Web sites

How did google establish dominance? Link analysis was a wise emphasis

Versus Yahoo, a limited directory

(Aside: there's a librarian named Needles at the Haystack Observatory)

People don't repeat searches

People don't climb through hit lists Just let them type the words in and find what they're looking for at thetop of the list.

Read "The Google Effect" by Dan Gilmore

Every search engine performs special pre-search algorithms; some are more visible than others.

Google's home page is spare, minimalist, unclutttered

References Krug, "Don't Make Me Think" (one of my favorite usability guides)

Google has had this unwavering belief in search; is fully robotic

Google "resisted the temptation to belong to other nations" (To quote Gilbert and Sullivan)

Google put in reverse phone book

effective scaling

google rebuilds the index from scratch every 30 days

Google has nimbleness

They are running linux on commodity servers

Could a contender overtake google? Microsoft vs Google: kill or buy

Posted by kgs at 08:21 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 07, 2003

Six Degrees of David Brin

Have something to say about David Brin? I'm introducing him as a speaker at the Sunday, November 16 membership meeting at our annual state conference.

In the spirit of Transparent Society, the book that earned him this speaking engagement, I'm going to Google him and run him through databases and maybe even try to look up his kindergarten class...

Of course, I first searched have some author sites, but I was pretty sure his wasn't there. (The spell-checker responded: "brin was not found -- try these words: brain brian brien bring")

Then, naturally, I googled him to find his official Web site, which includes an impressive (and very California-flavored) bio.

I'm already liking the guy. He's as nervous about blogging as I am. It feels like literary barebacking (oh dear--did I say that in public?). But I'm a little worried, because the talk is just over a week away and I've only read Postman. This guy is no one-trick pony; he must have titanium arms, because he's been flailing at keyboards for over two decades.

Oh, hey, he's written a lot of short fiction. I know! I'll read a couple of stories and spice up my intro with a well-placed reference or two.

Back to Google... and then, on to the value-added databases! Wonder if a trip to Bancroft would be worth it?

Posted by kgs at 02:21 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack Toolbar

This was one of the best ideas that came out of IL 2003... an toolbar! Jenny and Steven suggested this over dinner. I mean, doesn't that just scream mini-grant? What librarian wouldn't love an toolbar?

They also liked my idea of a federated search functionality--so that a search in could be expanded post-coordination to search across the other library portals, such as IPL and Infomine.

But that toolbar idea... that rocks!

Posted by kgs at 11:43 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

RSS Woes

With abysmal and humiliating lack of success, I keep trying to piggyback a "native" (site-hosted) RSS feed from one written with great care by Jon Legree of Yorba Linda Public Library.

His feed:

My adapted feed:

We haven't quite gotten to the point where we have our own parser on, but I thought I could just steal Jon's feed every week and modify it for our own purposes.

Well, boo-hoo. I'm clearly mucking up the file format, no matter how hard I try not to, because Amphetadesk gags on it. And I really do NOT understand why the image doesn't display. Does this file not work for you?

You might say, "oh, get over yourself Karen and just link to Jon's feed," but really, we're way past due on having our own native feed on; plus I want some control over its look and syntax. Besides, a real woman would have her own feed. Sojourner Truth would never have used some guy's feed (even if the guy, who is a swell all-around fella, did write the feed for credit in a course she was teaching).

And ain't I a woman?

A woman without an RSS parser is like a day without sunshine.

Posted by kgs at 09:08 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Second IL Con-Grunt: Search

Mary Ellen Bates gave a great talk on search at Internet Librarian 2003. She offered many more tips, but these were the ones that stood out for me.

  1. Always use more than one search engine... surprisingly little overlap among search engine indexes, and relevance ranking surfaces different URLs
  2. Use Alta Vista's world keyboard to insert non Roman characters
  3. Use AltaVista's "sort by" box to focus results
  4. Alta Vista is the one search engine that supports "near" --try holistic NEAR veterinarian , then add a sort term and sort
  5. Use thesauri to find different terms
  6. Try Google's new "define" feature: e.g. define sheep
  7. watch for alternative phrasing, e.g. retirement vs.superannuation
  8. To use Google's synonym feature: ~term
  9. Be aggressive with "pearl culturing" (also called citation seed growing)--digging through citations in high-confidence documents
  10. Use tools, not search engines; then use a search engine to find a tool, and then let a tool find the answer
  11. Search for sources, not just information
  12. Assume the key information will be buried in the invisible Web
  13. Use AlltheWeb's URL investigator: excellent background on a Web site
  14. Use "reverse link" searching as a citation search, eg.: -- works best for very focused sites
  15. earch full text
  16. For old DNS records, See Dialog's Doman Names (file 225) which lists Whowas records
  17. Poke around the site; use its site search, its search engine; use its site map; pull down all the pull down menus
  18. Mine Yahoo groups (available as RSS)
  19. Know the advanced search capabilities of at least three search engines:
    truncation, proximity searching, case sensitivity, field searching
  20. Use results clustering where available
  21. Read Bates' Tip of the Month
Posted by kgs at 08:58 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 06, 2003

First IL Con-Grunt

(Note: a "con-grunt" is a blog comment about a conference; derived from "ref-grunt," which is blogging about reference work. Source: Steve Cohen.)

Here are a few juicy tips about blogging and RSS from Internet Librarian 2003, broken down by presenter. Future con-grunts from IL 2003 will cover search, usability, and XML/XSLT.

Liz Lawley:

  1. Over 50% of blogs are written by women
  2. Personal blogs are like googling a brain
  3. Things said about blogs today are the same things said about the Web in 1994
  4. Aggregators lose the visual environment of what you are reading
  5. Allconsuming looks for blogs with ISBN numbers

Greg Notess:

  1. Search blog/rss search engines
  2. Daypop includes blogstats
  3. Daypop is basically from one guy
  4. Check out daypop word bursts
  5. Check out ,, and

Jenny Levine and Steven Cohen:

(Also see their post-conference addendum, which includes excellent "getting started" tips, such as how to get a free feed on Bloglines: )

  1. Good aggregators to try include Newsgator (Outlook-based feed), Newzcrawler, and Amphetadesk
  2. Places to find feeds include Newzcrawler, Newsisfree, Syndic8, Blogstreet, and Moreover
  3. RSSExplorer is a browser add-on
  4. Use daypop for creatinga custom search feed
  5. Moreover allows you to create RSS for keywords
  6. provdes RSS feeds for PubMed
  7. Feedster indexes RSS feeds
  8. Use to find library-related feeds
  9. Two other good sites include and
  10. You can reach Jenny on AIM at cybrarygal, and Steven at NYlibrarian

Posted by kgs at 06:28 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 05, 2003

Oh Yeah

And I had a very cool time over dinner at Internet Librarian with Jenny Levine, Steve Cohen, Marylaine Block, Genny Engel, and Aaron the Photoblogger Guy. See--I'm learning how to get down with my bad blogging self!

Posted by kgs at 06:06 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Free Range Librarian Peeps Again

Today is the First Day of the Rest of My Library Blog.

At 4:52 p.m. Pacific Time today, November 5 (and Roy Rogers' birthday), I ceased what has been essentially a two-year writing silence, if you don't count a few hundred entries in (and I don't, not that I don't have a very cool day job).

From now until the well runs dry--and let me tell you, this is one very deep well, even if the water is often brackish--every day, and I mean every day, barring natural or technological disaster, I'm posting to Free Range Librarian.

Most of that silence was self-imposed--not because I never had anything to say, but because I wanted to let the ground lie fallow while the seasons changed and the rain fell.

Some of that silence came because I had given up a very good writing gig at American Libraries and without the discipline of an editor nudging me to write--not to mention the security of an editor grooming my language and saving me from huge literary faux pas--well, it just didn't happen.

I refuse to say I was "busy" because I absolutely despise that expression. As in, "how do you ever find the time to [fill in blank]? I never could--I'm just so busy!"

As opposed to the rest of us, lounging in hammocks and snacking on chocolate bonbons? Look, I'm sorry some folks have such poor life skills that even the thought of juggling a day job with the occasional, personal-time post to a library discussion list send them into a panic. But plenty of people work, teach, write, take care of families, have real hobbies, get through at least one newspaper, make time for their favorite flavors of Law and Order, and manage to participate in professional discussions.

No, it's not for lack of time, real or perceived. Maybe I needed to do more reading (which I have done) and experience some of the fresh new writing on the Web (which I am doing) or simply bide a wee in my rose garden, contemplating buds as they opened.

I can state quite soberly that trifocals have pushed me into writing again. Reaching my mid-40s has not been a big deal. Achieving triple-lens status caught my attention. Age is now unavoidably written on my face--in its creases and spots, and now with these lined spectacles perched on my nose.

This isn't about grieving over the aging process. I wouldn't be young again; aging rocks, if you don't mind the way everything on your body starts slipping southward. It's about time management--about not being so "busy" that I don't have time to write.

I assume I'm about halfway through my life right now, and here I have two industry books and a pile of magazine articles under my belt. Not that there's anything wrong with that... but I see myself on the pivot point of my life, and if I really am going to write, then it's time to piss or get off the pot.

Tomorrow's entry will be more library-related. I may cry you a river, in fact, because I'm dashing off to a local emergency hearing to discuss the severe cuts to our local public library. When are people going to learn that 10% "across the board" is much more devastating to libraries and other services that start with less?

Posted by kgs at 05:55 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack