June 02, 2004

Comment Registration Required for This Site

I've enabled comment registration for Free Range Librarian (and tested it to ensure it works). The first time you post a comment, it will be held until I approve it. After that, you can comment all you want, as long as you follow my posting guidelines. I will not keep your e-mail addresses; this is both for your privacy, and to ensure high trust for FRL readers. Not unlike "information you can trust."

Posted by kgs at 11:30 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 30, 2004

I Finally Said It

I've heard the same comment five or six times at the Starbucks on Pacific Street in Santa Cruz, each time from a different barrista.

"Five bucks? That's a lot for a newspaper!"

Today, instead of smiling weakly and obediently proceeding to the dark corner near the bathroom where we wait for our caffeine, I replied, "Three dollars is a lot for a cup of coffee. And the Sunday New York Times lasts all day."

Then tipped, smiled, and proceeded to the dark corner.

Posted by kgs at 09:14 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 24, 2004

Yet More Wedding Pix

For those of you who can't get enough of me and Sandy in our coordinated dresses (and that crowd could be limited to me, Sandy, and a couple of relatives... I am fast becoming one of those people who bore other people with their wedding pictures), see:


Posted by kgs at 01:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 10, 2004

Upcoming Discussions

I took a few days' blogging break during and immediately after the high-octane phase of the annual grant I file for LSTA, which is the bulk of the funding for LII. I spent time gardening, sightseeing, seeing friends, and just avoiding computers. Now that I'm refreshed and recharged, I'll resume daily blogging.

Until Movable Type 3.0 shows up, I'll enable the comment feature less frequently... my old entries get spammed to death, even with MT-Blacklist enabled.

Posted by kgs at 07:40 PM | TrackBack

April 22, 2004

Questions for Site

Have a question for me? (Note: if you caught a series of errors in the last post--I beat you to it.)

Please e-mail me your questions if you don't want to include your e-mail address in an online comment. I really hate rhetorical questions ("wouldn't you like to take out the trash?" "No, thanks, I'm fine")--I have been guilty far too often of using them myself.

Posted by kgs at 10:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 17, 2004

Other Activities Afoot

For those of you tracking this blog, I've been very busy on a free-speech project. More about this later!

Posted by kgs at 09:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 16, 2004

Test to the Blog

Having severe posting and template-modification problems since yesterday... let's see if this works.

Posted by kgs at 06:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 31, 2004

Air America: Listen Online!


I am just a tad frustrated at the otherwise good coverage of this new liberal talk-radio that fails to note its live Web broadcast capability.

Break a leg, Air America! I'll be listening!

Posted by kgs at 11:24 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 17, 2004

Free Range Librarian Back in the Coop

I've written and destroyed this entry twice--the price of frantic post-vacation recovery! I have oodles to say, and clearly need some focused time to say it. But the issue of wireless at ALA is back on the docket, I have my own thoughts about the supposedly "draconian" copyright issue involving the otherwise nifty staff day video put out by SJCPL, ruminations about reader's advisory, my rant on the term "nonfiction," how cool it was to do lunch with Nat Hentoff, a letter-writing campaign that's in the works, and who I support for our ALA election. I'll also blog my experience using the new ALA voting software.

Posted by kgs at 09:23 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 08, 2004

Free Range Librarian Takes A Breather

No postings to FRL this week, most likely. Thanks for all the wedding greetings! I'm sitting here staring at our certificate--what an amazing world we are in. When FRL resumes, I plan to write about such things as the slow-moving-barge syndrome, why RSS can make me crazy, second thoughts about a recent paper on CIPA, and why I hate the term "nonfiction."

Posted by kgs at 05:28 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 06, 2004

The Schneider-Hulse Wedding

Update: Also see Gallery presentation of additional photos!

(Sunlight on the Richmond Bridge)

March 5 dawned bright and beautiful, and even with last-minute e-mail and phone calls, extensive pantyhose issues, and a power-walk around the Miller Knox park, we were out the door by 9 a.m. (though not without checking our purses at least a dozen times to ensure we had our picture ID and our paperwork for our noon appointment).

Our first stop was rather prosaic--we delivered the Civic to our mechanic, as the car had problems that needed attention right away, and we knew we'd be busy all day. We hoofed it in our wedding finery to the El Cerrito BART (past the doll store, the car wash, and the Hotsy Totsy bar), scooting through Starbucks for caffeine and a stack of newspapers to devour en route.

We made it to City Hall by 10:45--a good 45 minutes before we said we would be there--and up walked Marsha Harris, a member of our wedding party! Apparently we weren't the only ones with big-day anxiety. The three of us went to Rite-Aid for some under-eye cream Sandy had a yen for. And why shouldn't a bride get what she needs on her special day?

We had this vision of sitting in the City Hall cafe quaffing some refreshment and quietly reading the Times, but several more members of the wedding party materialized in the lobby, so with joy we gathered a circle of friends and caught up on chatter. The Times is with us every day... good friends less often. A full hour before our appointment to fill out paperwork, we were deep in discussion with Marsha, Mark, Jackie, Marian, Fred, my sister Maia (you can see her hand), and her friend Mitch. We were soon joined by John, who with Fred took most of the ceremony photographs that day.


Just before noon, Sandy and I, with John and Fred in trail, went off in search of Room 168, where we would fill out paperwork for our license. We passed so many same-sex couples walking to and from Room 168 that when I saw a mixed-gender couple I felt a little confused. What were they doing here? Oh, right--they can marry here, too. San Francisco is simply a marrying city!

En route we encountered several other members of the wedding party, including Monique and her delightful crew of kids, and David from SFPL. (As a librarian, I keep wanting to write weeding party...). I was trying to be a limpid doe-eyed bride, but at this point, with the hour upon us, the Captain Schneider persona emerged, and I quickly directed our friends to the City Hall cafe without breaking step as I marched us toward 168. It was time to take that hill.

This was our first encounter with San Francisco County staff, and everyone was so wonderful. I had heard they had all sustained good humor even when they were processing dozens of marriages an hour. With the stream of couples slowed to seven marriages an hour, per the new procedure, they were absolutely delightful; we felt warmly ushered into the state of marriage. I have never felt better writing a check made out to the government.


Once we had filled out this paperwork, we had a marriage license good for 90 days. Given the tenuous legal environment, our plan was always to marry immediately in City Hall. The couples who wed in the first week were happy to be married on the spot, but due to the new appointment schedule, we had the opportunity to plan a little (though we kept invitations in-state due to our concern that any minute the marriages might be stopped).

It was now time for the great event! My sister Maia had brought us lovely matching wedding bouquets, but when we walked into the foyer, a volunteer noted that people from around the country were donating bouquets. Floral arrangements were piled against one wall, a colorful greeting from well-wishers everywhere.

A courtly gentleman, Bill Jones, approached us and asked us where we wanted to be married. My first thought was, "City Hall, right?" We actually had options: downstairs; on the stairs; upstairs... far too many options given that at this point my brain was one long high-pitched sound drowning out any reasoning abilities.

We decided on the stairs, and friends and family gathered around as we said our vows. We also picked up several Japanese tourists, who later congratulated us profusely and no doubt are back in Tokyo showing relatives pictures of the strange but wonderful habits of those funny Americans.


We were both in awe of what was happening. It is very hard to explain what it means to be able to marry the person you love, joined together in the eyes of society, when less than a month ago this right had seemed as remote as Pluto. Sandy and I have ties that bind beyond the power of any license or certificate. But it is very meaningful to us that in San Francisco we are able to become "spouses for life," in the language of our marriage vows, just like any other couple--which is what we are.


Two more members of the wedding party caught up with us after the ceremony, and we then proceeded to a lovely luncheon at Citizen Cake, where we dined on fancy salads and panini, and then shared a wonderful chocolate confection complete with two little brides, washed down with champagne and cider brought by our friend Monique.


Afterwards, we resumed life. We took BART back to the East Bay, learned that the Civic had racked up a steep repair bill, took our aching feet home, pulled on jeans, and went for dinner at the Hotel Mac with our friend Mark. But everywhere we went, we said, "we were married today!" And everyone--mechanics, maitre d's, friends on the street--wished us well.

Posted by kgs at 07:15 PM | Comments (38) | TrackBack

March 03, 2004

Choicepoint: At Least They're Consistent

You may recall Choicepoint as the firm that produced a highly flawed list of supposedly disqualified voters for the Florida recount in the 2000 Presidential election. Courtesy of a routine background check run on me very recently, I know a little more how they operate, and it smells to high heaven.

The company that used Choicepoint sent me a courtesy copy of my background check (and that's excellent practice--it's legally required in California, but I doubt the disqualified voters in Florida received copies of their reports, regardless of the law there). I was clean as a whistle on most of the report, as is indeed correct, but to my horror discovered that "I" supposedly had two pending civil litigation cases. Looking more closely, I saw that in each case, "I" was married to a different man. Not only that, but "I" had been embroiled in these cases at the same time I was qualifying for a home loan.

I called Choicepoint and contested the information. They quickly backed down, and told me to check back in ten days. A representative from the firm that used the background check told me Choicepoint has "no choice" but to back down on most of these cases, due to lack of evidence, and that became obvious when I asked the next question. How did they get this information, I asked? The Choicepoint representative told me that this information represents a simple first-last name search of pending cases in the county I live in. In other words, a sloppy search not worthy of a first-semester library student provided the information for this report. Any Karen Schneider with past or pending civil litigation could have been (and was) listed in the section supposedly representing a background check about me and my worthiness.

Choicepoint has a tiny disclaimer at the beginning of the report: "The Report does not guarantee the accuracy or truthfulness of the information as to the subject of the investigation, but only that it is accurately copied from the public records." I loudly contest that statement. My "history" of civil litigation was merely a data-dump of random Googlesque searching of public records. It wasn't based on the sensitive and personal information I had to provide for this background check, and it had absolutely no human review, let alone bearing on reality.

Choicepoint claims to be a quality source of the kind of information used for career decisions, major purchases, voting eligibility, and even your FBI record, should you be so lucky to have one. There is plenty of evidence that Choicepoint helped elect (or at least appoint) our current president based on badly flawed data that unfairly disenfranchised voters and swung the vote the wrong way. My experience provides more evidence that Choicepoint routinely chooses methods guaranteed to produce bad data. If you use Choicepoint, or if it is used on you, beware. And I'll update this in ten days, after they have supposedly cleaned up my record.

Posted by kgs at 07:35 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 01, 2004

Why We Need Pre-Washed Salad


This Pew report says nearly half of all connected Americans have communicated online. So that's what happened to our free time. (I actually used my sewing machine last week, albeit to make a custom sleeve for my laptop. And to think I once sewed all of my own clothes...)

Posted by kgs at 06:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 17, 2004

California Needs Gay Marriage--Now

Yesterday, my partner and I tried to get married in San Francisco. We naively assumed that if we showed up at 3 p.m., we'd stand in line for a little while and be married by 4 p.m. at the very latest.

We quickly discovered that hundreds of people were lined up to marry, including many who had been waiting since the previous day, some with small children. The few exceptions included a couple where one partner who had given birth hours earlier, stumbled into City Hall on the arms of her partner, then after the ceremony headed back to the hospital for postpartum care. Other people told us they had flown in from Minneapolis, New York, Washington State, and other places throughout the country. They were determined to wed, and Mayor Gavin Newsom had made this possible.

We stood in the rain with many other people, watching couples bound down the steps of City Hall. Sandy and I misted up. It was so moving, so beautiful--a truly spiritual experience.

Then a man next to us chatted about his experience as a volunteer that day.

"Volunteer?" I asked, and something in my left cranial lobe began whirring.

"Oh yes, the mayor deputized many people, who are working for free."

I felt my brain shift into fourth gear, and a vein in my forehead began pulsing.

"How many people have been married so far?"

This was the kind of question that immediately stimulated everyone within ten feet to demonstrate his or her mathematical prowess by sheer guesswork. "Sixteen hundred!" "Five Thousand!" "Four hundred today!" "No, seven hundred!"

"That's o.k.," I said, "good enough." I felt my eyes stinging with hot tears. Not over the lost chance to marry--we were both overcoming bad colds, and waiting overnight was impossible; this made us sad, but it didn't make me cry. No, I wasn't crying over the major strike for equality this event represented--although we were in the middle of a historical moment. I wasn't even crying out of gratitude for Mayor Gavin Newsom, whose leadership on this issue is nothing short of brave and brilliant.

Instead, I felt myself weep over the three little words I, as an administrator, so love to hear:

"Local revenue stream."

My heart thumping, I began doing the math. It's only about $100 for a marriage license (good grief--no wonder people do this so casually--it costs more to register a car or a boat). But City Hall was cranking out over 100 marriages an hour, and though some staffing was required, they did deputize a lot of volunteers. Even at a conservative estimate of 2,000 marriages as of Monday night, that's a gross of $200,000. After factoring in additional staff time and security requirements, plus the overhead of the requirements for the physical plant, City Hall would be lucky to break even on this special event. But that doesn't include the additional tourism revenue, and I already read about the couple staying at the Fairmont all weekend.

Let's assume gay marriage isn't stopped in San Francisco. Presumably the marriage registrar's office could handle the increased volume during regular office hours with, with additional staffing. Increase the license volume by 500-1000 licenses a week--and I don't think that's unrealistic, given the number of gay people in the United States--which could be as high as 29 million (ten percent of the total U.S. population). Even if it's one percent of the population, and only one percent of that group comes to San Francisco over a period of a decade, that's a lot of licenses, again, and that's even before we get to rooms at the Fairmont or tables for ten at the Washbag.

Now I really admire Gavin Newsom. The Mayor is not only brave and righteous--he's downright entrepreneurial!

Gay marriage is a tough question for many, and even I, out of empathy and compassion, believe we can't turn our backs on those who "aren't there yet" on this issue. Still, we in California need to come up with new and better ways to make ends meet. Every city in California is suffering badly right now. Every school, library, and fire station is scrambling to find ways to meet ends meet, and I don't know of a single county in our state that is anticipating better times to come just yet.

This is an issue whose time has not only come, but whose arrival is in strictly pecuniary terms, highly timely. Any county or city government on the fence on this issue needs to factor in the revenue and ask if continued discrimination against marital rights for same-sex couples is worth the loss in revenues this opportunity presents.

Oakland, Richmond, Berkeley, San Rafael; Los Angeles, Mendocino, Eureka; every corner of this state needs to look at its checkbook and then ask itself, can it afford not to join Mayor Newsom in granting same-sex couples the right to wed?

Posted by kgs at 03:23 AM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

February 15, 2004

Going to the Chapel... Oops!

Talk about pent-up desire! At 4 p.m. Sunday, at least 100 same-sex couples were camped out in front of San Francisco City Hall, waiting to get married tomorrow, Presidents' Day. More on this later.


Posted by kgs at 07:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 12, 2004

Lesbians Marry in San Francisco

URL: http://sfgate.com/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2004/02/12/GAYMARRIAGE.TMP

(Updated!) We interrupt this blog for an important announcement: dozens of same-sex couples were married today at San Francisco City Hall. Among the group were Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon. two lesbians famous among gay rights activists. Neither lesbian is a librarian, but no doubt by the week's end at least one gay librarian should be married, given the number of librarians in the Bay Area, the number of gay people in the Bay Area, the high percentage of gays and lesbians in librarianship, and the proximity of San Francisco Public Library to SF's City Hall.

"The wedding came just two days after Mayor Gavin Newsom announced that he wanted San Francisco to take the lead in bestowing the same marriage rights to gays and lesbians as are awarded to straight couples, saying he is duty-bound to fight discrimination."

Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon are pioneers of the gay rights movement, and were founding members of Daughters of Bilitis, an early lesbian organization.

Personal note: my partner and I have discussed marrying many times, but have been waiting until we could do it legally in this country. If the law is still valid when we can next get to San Francisco (and SF accepts couples from the Mysterious East Bay), we'll get hitched. Who would have thought it..!

Posted by kgs at 03:15 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 10, 2004

Blogging about Blogsource Blogging: Catch the Fever


icontemplate wondered, "Hmm, 'the library weblog about library weblogs.' I wonder...if others try to copy Steven and Greg's neat idea, would someone out there create a Blogsource blogsource? Would its header say 'the library weblog about library weblogs about library weblogs?' And if others copy that idea, would that be called 'the library weblog about library weblogs about library weblogs about library weblogs?' And if others copy that idea... "

I suppose there is room in the biblioblogosphere for a blog about library blogs, but only if it is Comprehensive, not to mention Complete, Impartial, Now Online, Check It Out, Sweeeeet, Kewl, New (oops, momentarily sidetracked by a firestorm of buzzwords and jargon)...

Posted by kgs at 09:49 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 06, 2004

OCLC's Environmental Scan


"The scan provides a high-level view of the information landscape, intended both to inform and stimulate discussion about future strategic directions. "

Strategery: good stuff. But the real reason to "read" this report is that the Flash animations and search functions make it fun to play with. I can hear the folks at OCLC now: "but this report is not a TOY!" Hey, sure it is, and a good one! Very nice use of Flash on the main page, and it could double as a geography test. Texas, or India? You decide!

The searchable report doubles as an ego-surfing opportunity for the librariati (try "schneider," "levine," "tennant," or "crawford"). I was interviewed for this report, and perhaps my highly erudite observances about the state of the state of portals influenced it somewhere, somehow, but to my great surprise and indeed pleasure, it is my blog that gets quoted, not my for-sure real-offishul day job. Search the report for "free range," and you will find me opining about Amazon's Search Inside the Book.

Oh, how it pleaseth me to see FRL quoted very seriously by an organization with the heft of OCLC, given that once upon a time, when FRL was brand-new, a Very Important Librarian sniped behind my back that "Free Range Librarian" was "stupid." (Soon after that, wrath descended upon my head, and lo, I was sorely punished. What is it about OCLC that inspires this faux-Biblical turn of speech?)

In any event, what a great way to start a Friday. Cluck, cluck!

Posted by kgs at 09:30 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 04, 2004

The Problem with LCD Monitors

When I had a monitor the size and weight of a 747, Dot sat on top of it, and all was well. After my new Dell flat-panel 1901 monitor arrived--and it is absolutely gorgeous and crystal-clear--Dot prowled around my desk for a week, no doubt waiting for me to restore "her" monitor. She finally gave up, but I now have a little problem printing and copying, particularly when she leans on the feed tray (which causes it to fall out). I get attitude when I try to lift the lid to make a copy by hand, and she occasionally leans over to bite paper as it emerges the printer.

There's no moral to this story. Dot is a cat. She sits where she wants, and she's beyond morality. Emma, the other cat, sleeps on the couch, and I doubt I'll exchange it for a two-dimensional version any time soon...


Posted by kgs at 05:44 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 03, 2004

(Re-)Discovering Dickens, the Olde Tyme Way

Stanford's Discovering Dickens project is terrific. However--and call me an old geezer if you must--I do not recommend that you try reading the PDFs on your handheld or PC, however au courant that seems. This is a literary reenactment, enabled by the Web, and the fun part is participating the olde-tyme way, not by attempting to scroll through a book-like object on a computer (let alone a screen the size of a piece of Melba toast).

For the true Dickensian experience, download and print the missives (and then rub them in your hands for a minute, so they look more authentic). Better yet, do as I did and send in to get the free weekly snail-mailings, which Stanford is providing for the first 5,000 takers. The pamphlets, printed on thin newsprint, are cute as a button and highly portable, and you can also pride yourself on being one of the project pioneers.

At any rate, however you read it, bon appetit. It's a lot of fun to be part of this experience!

Posted by kgs at 12:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 21, 2004

Shameless begging

I have absolutely no, zero, graphic skills. As a signature graphic for this site, I would love an elegant, old-tymey black and white image of a chicken (perhaps wearing glasses?) to enhance this site. Anyone have a particularly nice public-domain graphic to offer?

Posted by kgs at 01:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 29, 2003

A Blog-Free Interlude

I won't be blogging for a few days; I'm taking a writer's holiday (lots of reading). Walt Crawford recommended an occasional writing sabbatical in his latest Cites and Insights, and it's a really good idea.

Note that I've rewritten the RSS tutorial. It now uses Gary Price's Resource Shelf as the example, though I think I'll add four or five examples... next week.

Thanks for reading Free Range Librarian. See you in 2004!

Posted by kgs at 12:43 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 21, 2003

'Tis the Season, Far Too Long

The Department of Education announced an official White House site called "Season of Stories," in which the White House presents stories and read-alouds, some by senior White House officials. Not only that, continued the press release, but "At the same site, every weeknight at 8:00 p.m., bedtime stories will be read by administration officials." Secretary Paige even reads "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas"--as Freud says, there are no mistakes.

I understand the following stories will be presented later this month:

President Bush: The Very Hungry Budget Deficit Caterpillar

Secretary Rumsfeld: Dude, Where's My Weapons of Mass Destruction?

John Ashcroft: I Know What You Read Last Summer

Colin Powell: Kick it Up a Notch: The Protracted War Cookbook

Cheney: Babar and the Insider Contract

Posted by kgs at 05:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 02, 2003

RSS in Gummint

Found this well-tempered blog on RSS in government through a mention on the Shifted Librarian:


One of the managing editors is Ray Matthews, an RSS disciple based in the Utah state government. Ray has done a lot to champion RSS, and his "workshop," though primarily geared toward the implementor (versus the end-user), is terrific.

Posted by kgs at 07:40 PM | 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 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 http://laughinglibrarian.com/
and the blog for the Lipstick Librarian http://www.lipsticklibrarian.com/blog/.

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 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 15, 2003

Rock the (Barbie) Vote!

Barbie.com'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

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 09, 2003

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; news.google.com 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

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.: link:www.BatesInfo.com -- works best for very focused sites
  15. earch full text recall.archive.org
  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 waypath.com , www.bloogz.com, and blogrunner.com

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:
http://www.theshiftedlibrarian.com/2003/11/05.html#a4856 )

  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. pmbrowser.info provdes RSS feeds for PubMed
  7. Feedster indexes RSS feeds
  8. Use LISFeeds.com to find library-related feeds
  9. Two other good sites include Feedroll.com and www.2rss.com
  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

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 lii.org (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