Friday, March 31, 2006


.....Friday. It has been an unbelievably busy week, culminating yesterday at Library Legislative Day.

This is my first time to attend this function in my new state, and it's run much differently than in Nebraska. Instead of being able to chat with the legislators at lunch, we needed to make individual appointments, since buying them lunch is verboten. Apparently, giving one of these guys a mug is verboten. From what I understand, this was a knee-jerk reaction to some scandal a few years ago, which was solved in the time-honored parental decree that "no one may give anyone anything ever again!!! I would imagine the official language is a bit more legal, but you get the idea.

The meetings were interesting, and most of the legislators were quite pleasant. We wandered the tunnels underneath the capital buildings like hamsters, made nice-nice with folks, had lunch, and came home. I'm not sure why it was so exhausting, but it was.

I'm very, very much looking forward to the weekend!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Conferences missed...

A few folks from MPOW went to conferences last week - two to PLA and one to CIL. All three came back brimming with new ideas, energized by the things they heard and the folks they interacted with. They even blogged about various and sundry.

Michael Stephens is one of the folks they were excited about hearing - and meeting, since he's coming to Minnesota to impart his wisdom in May. His blog is one of those I read faithfully. He's got really great insights into libraries and librarians, on tech stuff, and how all of this impacts how we can better serve our patrons.

I'm sorry I missed them....but on the other hand, I was delighted to have been able to travel home for a "little" brother's 40th birthday celebration. Happy Birthday, Michael!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Ode, Part 2

While duct tape remains the King of Handy Stuff, vinegar must run a close second. The Vinegar Institute has a list of the things vinegar can be used to fix. Amazing.

H/T Lifehacker

I'm, like soooo suuuuure.....

From the New York Observer, a story on how our language is changing. And not in a good way.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Forbes Magazine has just come out with the list of the World's Most Important Tools. One was not on the list, but got its own article.

Models use it to create cleavage. Sled-dog drivers use it to prevent frostbite. Athletes use it to support weak joints. Veterinarians use it to repair horses' hooves.

What's this wonder tool? Duct tape.

The men in my family would heartily concur. According to my Dear Brother-in-Law, "If it can't be fixed with duct tape, it can't be fixed." We always have a roll of duct tape in the house.

Ironically, duct tape is great for everything but ducts.

In 1998, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory physicists Max Sherman and Lain Walker tested a variety of sealing materials on sheet metal ducting, then heated and cooled the ducts to simulate the aging process. They soon found that duct tape leaked air so badly much of the cooling and heating was wasted -- and that the tape frequently shrunk, dried up or separated.

"It failed reliably and often quite catastrophically," says Sherman. "And nothing else except duct tape failed."

Monday, March 20, 2006

Changing paradigms

Eeesh. I cringe just reading my own headline. I despise jargon. Don't talk to me about benchmarking our anything. Or about out-of-the-box whatever. My paradigms are fine, thank you.

Enter Bullfighter. It's a lovely program that will "help you find and eliminate jargon in your documents."

They even have a Mystery Matador, which will edit a document you've received and send the corrected document to the sender.

My heros.

H/T Lifehacker.

Lest we forget....

I must admit, Katrina and its aftermath haven't been on my radar for a while. But I came across a reference today to the New Orleans Public Library.

Not surprisingly, they're in a world of hurt. The photos are amazing; scroll down to the Rebuilding News and you can see what's going on in each branch.

They're hoping for donations to help rebuild. Seems to me librarians should help other librarians. I'm giving. I hope you will, too.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

For invisible patrons?

The Invisible Library.

All the books within the books.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Corned Beef for Everyone!

Oh, thank God. Or, the Archbishop.

Catholics don't eat meat on Fridays during Lent. This year, March 17th falls on a Friday, which is St. Patrick's Day, for those non-Celts. Turns out, there are enough Irishmen mourning the possible lack of corned beef on Friday that a number of the Archbishops have granted an indult for the day. We can eat our corned beef, secure in the knowledge that we're OK with God and the Church.

Whispers in the Loggia has been keeping track.

Senior Moment?

Librarians have spent a great deal of time looking at ways to encourage the younger set - Millenials, as they're called - to visit and use the library. In a terrific post, Stephen Abram reminds us not forget the folks on the other end of the age spectrum - seniors. He references a report by the U.S. Census Bureau, 65+ in the United States.

Here at MPOW we've got a wonderful program going called Senior Techies. A team is going around to libraries, training seniors of how to use a computer, how to use email, how to use a digital camera, and how to scan photos. The response has been overwhelming, and the stories are funny, and heartwarming, and eye-opening.

One couple wanted to learn email so they could communicate with their son, who was stationed in Iraq. The mayor of one town joined the class to learn email. The local Santa also attended.

One man shared with the trainer (Ann) that he hadn't been in a library since 1954. He wasn't sure about being there, but his wife had dragged him in. Ann assured him that he was more than welcome, and that there was much the library could offer him. He had left school in eighth grade, and wasn't sure his reading skills were good enough for him to use the library.

Now, this opens up a whole philosophical discussion. Why hadn't this man been in a library since Eisenhower was in office? What had his previous experience been that he felt so unwelcome? Are we doing the same thing today, alienating people who won't visit a library again until 2056???

Be prepared

No, I'm not a Boy Scout. And it seems a bit odd to be thinking about this, with another eight inches of snow coming our way. But Jessamyn West at Librarian.Net has a wonderful posting and reminder on how to deal with a tornado at your library, prompted by the tornados that hit Kansas recently.

For those of us in the Midwest where tornados are a real threat, this is a reminder to be prepared. Have a plan. Train the staff. If, God forbid, something happens, you'll be glad you took the time now.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Absolutely incredible.

This street artist has done unbelievable things with his sidewalk art. Definitely worth a look.

H/T Readeriam

Or not.

Blowing and drifting snow. Freezing rain. Weird thunder snow.

The robins must be wondering what happened.

Welcome to Minnesota.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Spring arrives

It's truly spring.

I know, it's still only 36 degrees, and there are threats of snow or freezing rain.

But the yard was full of robins this morning. There must have been 50 of them, looking around for their breakfasts. Interestingly, there was what looks like a robin with vitiligo, which is a condition people get that destroys the pigmentation in skin, causing white areas. This robin looked like it had the same thing - large white areas of what otherwise looked like a robin.

I heard a red-wing blackbird yesterday. And the feeder is full of sparrows and cardinals and finches. I know the last group doesn't migrate, but they tend to lay low - at least in our yard. Not this morning.

And then there's Phil. DH gave him that moniker, after seeing him walk slowly around in the tall weeds next to our yard, sneak s-l-o-w-l-y out into the yard, and then make a mad dash for the other side. Phil is a Pheasant. I'm hoping he's scoping out the place for a nest.

It's wonderful to be awakened by the chirping and vocalizations of the songbirds. It's wonderful to be awakened by sunlight.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Pete's Mag

Casey's friend, Pete, has taken up the challenge and created his own magazine:

Not so great moments in education

In Chicago, even blind high-school students are required to take driver's education.

You read that right. Required.

From the Chicago Tribune:
Mayra Ramirez scored an A in driver's education this year, but sitting through the 10-week class felt like a bad joke to the Curie Metropolitan High School sophomore.

Ramirez is blind. She knows she's never going to drive. She can think of a lot of things she'd rather be studying than rules of the road, but she didn't have a choice.

Chicago Public Schools requires all sophomores to take the class and pass a written road-rules exam--a graduation requirement that affects about 30 blind and visually impaired students in specialized programs at Curie and Payton College Preparatory High.

"In other classes, you don't really feel different because you can do the work other people do," said Ramirez, 16. "But in driver's ed, it does give us the feeling we're different. In a way, it brought me down, because it reminds me of something I can't do."


H/T OpinionJournal

Fight of the Century

I attended Catholic schools for most of my educational career. In grade school, we had the School Sisters of Notre Dame. In high school, it was the School Sisters of St. Francis. Grad school was the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Agnes.

I've never been a nun myself, though I remember wanting to be one in 5th grade - mainly because I thought the outfit was cool. They switched to short skirts and veils the next year, which took all the mystique out of it for me. The closest I came to being a nun was playing Sister Hubert in Nunsense for a number of years.

So, with that background, imagine how I felt about this story.

Nuns vs. Librarians?!!?

There are so many places I could go with that one, I'm rendered speechless by sheer smart-aleck overload.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


OK, I'll admit it. I don't use RSS feeds. (pause for collective gasp of disbelief...)

I'm intrigued, I guess. But it's just another thing I need to do, or it's too much work, get the idea. Frankly, it's just not on my radar.

But the ever-helpful folks at Lifehacker have again directed me to an article that may make me see the light.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Children's Hour

From Lifehacker, a site that offers audio stories for children.


StoryNory offers children's stories, ready to be downloaded to an MP3 players, burned to a CD, or just listened to from the site. How wonderful.

If you can't beat 'em....

I attended a librarian meeting this morning. Part of the meeting was a presentation by a book rep for a publisher of children's material.

Now, my particular forte is reference work; I've never worked as a children's librarian. I don't know much about children's books, though since I will be a grandmother this summer (eek!) I'm finding myself looking more closely at children's materials than I had before.

Most of the material seemed to be fairly typical children's stuff. There were books with neato tactile areas. (Oooh! Fuzzy! Scratchy!) There were books with handy features like big tabs, so little fingers could more easily turn the pages.

The thing that made me sit up straight and pay attention, however, was a marriage between a number of these books and the Internet. There's a whole selection of these books - primarily geared towards an older audience of elementary-age children - that features Internet links as a path to additional information. Want to know more about the pyramids? Want to know more about Canadian cooking?

Now, there are a few things about all this that I find fascinating. First of all, instead of following the path of denial and disavowing any knowledge of or interest in the Internet and all it has to offer, this publisher is embracing it. This "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" approach is not only brilliant, it's good sense. In my recent grad school experience, there were a number of library "experts" who were bemoaning the emergence of the Internet into our lives. There was much wailing and moaning and gnashing of teeth over the imminent demise of the library as a result. One of our textbooks even had this viewpoint, for crying out loud. It was incredibly refreshing to see a publisher that, instead of whining about this new competitor, was working to see how they could take advantage of the new technolgy.

Secondly, if you wander around the links provided, you will note that this is not original material. A number of the sites are the work museums, colleges and universities, and government entities. Why reinvent the wheel? All in all, brilliant.

Now, we all need to take another look at how we're looking at the Internet and all of its resultant technological whiz-bang. Are we wringing our hands, wondering when our libraries will be redundant? Are we digging in our heels, vowing to never blog/allow IM/offer wireless/play games? Or...are we looking at ways that we can not only embrace the new technology, but take advantage? How can we leverage our knowledge and expertise with this new resource, to the advantage of our libraries, our patrons, and ourselves?

Monday, March 06, 2006

Swell tool

There's a site where you can track your packages with Google Maps. The always handy folks over at Lifehacker have reported,
" has created a package tracking tool that will map your UPS, FedEx, USPS, or DHL/Airborne package’s progress with Google Maps.

All you need to do is enter the package’s tracking number and voila - the tracker automatically detects which company your package was shipped with. This service is very similar to previously-mentioned tracking service Package Mapper, however’s package tracker will also generate an RSS feed that will update you on each step of your package’s progress."

How cool is that?

Couldn't resist.

I simply had to have this t-shirt. There's a license plate holder, too.

I do love it when librarians can poke fun at themselves.

Friday, March 03, 2006


Marty Stein died yesterday. The world has lost a mensch, a truly wonderful man.

I worked for Marty for 13 years, starting as a clerk in one of his drugstores and segueing to the optical division (at his suggestion) and ultimately becoming a Certified Optician and store manager. He was the first to have me create a corporate newsletter, a skill I have used in every workplace through my life, and a skill I use to this day. He met regularly with this college kid, coaching and encouraging me to use my talents and try new things.

We once had a conversation on who had more guilt, the Catholics or the Jews. (We decided the Catholics, since we get Original Sin at conception, whereas Jews get Motherly Guilt from birth.) He planted a tree for my grandmother in Israel when she passed away. Whatever Yiddish I know, I learned largely from Marty. He was kind, funny, generous, and a beautiful person. Working with him gave me a blueprint for how to be a good boss and how to be a good person.

He would meet regularly with world leaders, such as Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. (He referred to those meetings as "Begin and Eggs.") He met with President Reagan, Yitzshak Shamir, and even the Pope. He assisted hundreds of Russian Jews in immigrating to this country, and was an integral part of Junior Achievement, going so far as to open chapters in Russia.

I will miss him. The world has lost one of its best.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Another fun Flickr tool. It creates magazine covers and it's just too fabulous. Here's my Darling Goldendoodle's mag:

Have a blast and create your own!

This just in...

...from grad school buddy Susan. Great site -

Now, this site has been around since 1994, so I would imagine this isn't new for some folks. But it's always nice to discover a resource.

The site is swell not only for readers looking for a good new read, but I can imagine a small and/or rural library using this as a collection development tool.