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July 23, 2003

Free Range Librarian: Its Story

That title is misleading, because I am not at liberty to discuss why Free Range Librarian suddenly vanished after two well-received issues in the fall of 2002. I will have to save that for another time, another day. The salient news is that it is back.

However, I can tell you why I started Free Range Librarian. After over seven years as the "Internet Librarian" for American Libraries, I needed to try something different. American Libraries was wonderful to me; I truly loved writing for them. But I needed -- different.

It couldn't be that different, however. I do not have the soul of a blogger; I like to gather ideas like fallen or plucked fruit, spread them across the floor of my mind, and contemplate them until they ripen into my written words. And I almost always share what I write with a trusted source before I put it online, because I don't like to pass up the chance to improve what I say and how I say it. Finally, I like the idea of a monthly deadline; it has the expectant, celebratory feeling I associate with opening a new issue of Vanity Fair or settling into a seat in a darkened movie theater.

This is the result. I'm pleased with it. I am considering taping the articles, as well, because I've been playing with sound. And who knows, but I just might go wild and add a picture or two.

I hope you enjoy FRL. Please use the comment feature to share your ideas, or e-mail me at kgs @

Posted by kgs at July 23, 2003 08:05 PM

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Yipee! Glad you are back.

Posted by: Celia C. Elwell at July 31, 2003 10:41 AM

Building Libraries, Building Some Dreams
Eagle Harbor, Fleming Island, Clay County, Florida
July, 2003

It became obvious this past week, at least to me, that some people who build libraries, or any other type of building, are doing just that, building buildings. If dreams are involved in what is being built the dreams are limited to what is to be done with the money that is made or, in a better, but not much better dream, in limited dreams. Some dreams are so limited that they have no room for the dreams of others. Allowing for the dreams of others must be the sine qua non of a library. Indeed, if a library only had the dreams of one person or one group, it would not be considered anything more than a collection of specialist's books. And not a very good specialist.

So, get used to that idea because it means that my dreams for this library are going to be different than your dreams, or we are in trouble. The dreams don't have to be radically different, but just different enough to make the place more than just some walls and electricity to protect the books.

First off what we have to do is be sure the electronic beeps that now signal a book is being checked out of the library are changed. The beep is fine for grocery stores and even some retail shops, but not for libraries. We need different sounds when a book is checked out. Sounds, about 2,345 sounds would do, so there is not a great deal of redundancy because we don't want the librarians getting tired of the sounds or worse, used to them. Nothing is worse than habituation to an important event.

The sounds would be low decibel, just like the beeps are now, but would carry information that we don't usually recognize. The librarian would have a small box with a cover, so she couldn't peek, that would tell what the sound was if the patron couldn't guess it in 1 guess. Sounds like the ones the wings of a moth makes when it is hovering over a light bulb would be good. Sounds like an elephant makes when it is splashing in the lake is another sound that has to be there. Similarly, the roar of a Bengal Tiger, the lip smacking of a satiated hyena after a meal of dead gazelle, the chomp-chomp-chomp of the relentless termite and it will be easy to get 2,345 sounds.

Now, because those who pay a 50 dollar damage deposit fee will be able to buy a good cup of coffee, preferably in a coffee mug they bought at the library, and sit at a table to use their computer for the wireless connection, it is obvious that there should be one table near the checkout desk so eavesdropping would be possible and appropriate.

The fifty dollars is never refundable and make no mistake, it is only there if the patron spills coffee on the book or rug and refuses to pay. Obviously, in the case of clumsy patrons, when coffee is spilled, he will ask the librarian for an estimate of the damage and pay for it right on the spot, preserving all his library privileges and the decor of the library.

It would be greatly helpful if the library sold coffee mugs with lids that had those little open and shut parts so if the cup, or when the cup, is dropped or knocked over, it would not be a major spill at all. The cup could have some cute saying on it: "Librarians make the best coffee." Or, "Starbucks, eat your heart out."

To avoid being in competition with private enterprise, all of the coffee profits would have to go to buying books.

The scaffolds are all down from the outside of the building now, all stacked up like some future monkey bars for a playground, and it may be we are going to see a burst of inside activity that can't be measured.

Dwight Hines
Green Cove Springs, Florida USA

P.S. So far in these essays on the library being built I've avoided talking about content, the books and so on, of the library. I won't be able to keep this detached position because of Drew keeping count on those libraries that have gone wireless and FRL (Free Range Librarian -- simply meditating, and others:

"Karen Schneider started TIFAP, the Internet Filter Assessment Project, and became the person everybody went to for expert advice on library filters. Gary Price, with all his web sites and the book he wrote with Chris Sherman, became the acknowledged expert on The Invisible Web.

Charles Bailey is the recognized authority on scholarly publishing online because he started the Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography back in the days of telnet, and is still publishing it, along with the Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog . Bernie Sloan has cornered the market for research on digital reference , Eric Sisler has became the best-known expert on Linux in Libraries , and Bill Drew has become the guru of Wireless Librarianship . Rory Litwin staked a claim on progressive librarianship at Library Juice , as did Jessamyn West at . And those are just a few. I could name lots more.

The moral is, get in on the ground floor. If there's an issue you care a lot about and nobody else is addressing it, start a weblog or a web site, and get me and Jessamyn and Blake Carver of to announce it. Bingo, you're now the expert on it, unless you fall on your face in public. It's a great career move, because you can use it, as I have, as a platform from which to build a career writing books and articles and speaking at conferences. On the basis of her web work, Jessamyn became a very logical choice to edit Revolting Librarians Redux [see]. Genie Tyburski and Gary Price have also become regular and welcome speakers at professional conferences.

But let's take this a step farther and think about what internet niches our LIBRARIES could fill, what unique services we could render that would make librarians the go-to people for our bosses and for our local community."
All of this detail straight from the newsletter of Marylaine Block

Posted by: Dwight at August 1, 2003 07:38 AM

i like astory book to read.

Posted by: eric at November 18, 2003 05:03 AM

Iran Rug Co - Iran. Manufacturers and traders in hand
woven traditional style carpets and rugs, from wool, silk,
cotton and blends. Product gallery with technical information
and prices.

Posted by: Ehsan at January 2, 2004 03:19 PM