Friday, June 30, 2006

Ask Me Later: Need a Flag?

The folks at Ask Me Later alerted me to a site offering free American flags; just pay shipping. Since our flag has shredded itself in the wind, we were in need. Timely information for Independence Day!
Ask Me Later: Need a Flag?

Thursday, June 29, 2006


Just got back from a Spanish Language Outreach Workshop in Park Rapids, in Way Up There, Minnesota. It was a lively and engaging group, and the workshop was great fun as a result.

One of the added benefits of this particular workshop was the discovery that the headwaters of the Mississippi River, Lake Itasca, was only 20 miles away. We went. It was seriously wonderful. Unfortunately, I hadn't taken my camera with me - another reason to have a camera phone! - but here's a link that will provide some info.

It's a beautiful area. And having been at the Mississippi's end in New Orleans, it was very cool to walk to the middle of the river at its start.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

New beginnings

The reunion weekend was terrific, but I was a bit sad that I wouldn't be able to stay for the impending birth of my DSD's daughter. DH stayed the weekend, since the birth was scheduled for Monday. I had to return to Minnesota, since I was due in Park Rapids on Tuesday for a workshop. My grandma moment would have to wait.

Or not.

Alannah Leannan apparently had different plans. While shopping on Saturday, Kelly started feeling funny....then in pain....then rather definitely in labor. We got the call while at the reunion that we were grandparents and were congratulated by all.

Alannah was 7 pounds, 9 ounces, 19 inches long and absolutely beautiful. Not that I'm biased.

I'm glad Alannah decided grandma couldn't wait. Welcome, Little One.


What an amazing evening. It was incredible to gather and get to know each other again - or for the first time, in some cases.

I am lucky enough to have remained friends with a group of amazing women that I met in high school. Some of the men, too, to some extent. But it's really these women that have been the mainstay of my life for over 30 years now.

We've seen each other through marriages and divorces, through the births of children and grandchildren, through career changes, recalcitrant teenagers, new houses, and everything else. Everything. We can go without seeing each other for months or even years, and when you walk in the door, it's as if no time has passed at all.

It was terrific to see old classmates at the reunion that I hadn't seen in a long time, and to mark the astonishing changes in a few of them. But it was the chance to have an evening with my buddies that made the trip.

Here's to you guys. Don't know what I'd do without you.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Spirit of '76

I'm heading home this weekend for my 30th high school reunion. I'm going to have an advantage over many of the folks who will be there. I've read their biographies.

I volunteered to help in compiling the biography book for the reunion, and so they're being sent to me to publish. Of course, I've been reading them along the way, and it's been an experience in itself.

The high school we attended is a private, Catholic school in Waukesha, Wisconsin. The class had 206 graduates, from all walks of life. Our parents spanned the economic spectrum, from parents who were struggling to raise the money for tuition to those who owned major businesses in the Milwaukee area. (One classmate actually got a brand-new Camaro for his 16th birthday.) Most of us fell somewhere in the middle.

We went through school with teachers and administrators telling us we were one of the brightest classes they had ever had. I'm not sure any of us really believed that, and assumed that it was something they said to every class. In retrospect, however, we were a really bright class. Case in point: my GPA at graduation was somewhere in the neighborhood of 3.4. I was ranked 102nd in the class. I made the top half of the class by the skin of my teeth with an A- grade point average.

Given that, I shouldn't really be surprised by the biographies I'm reading, but I'm really impressed with what we've done with our lives. We have doctors and lawyers, accountants and engineers, teachers and laborers. We have librarians, academics, a judge...and even a nun. We've had children and grandchildren, been married and divorced, and have experienced the loss of friends, family, and classmates. We've survived cancer, have traveled the world, and have now come to life in our late 40's realizing that, while things may not have worked out as we planned, on the whole, things have worked out. (Our classmate, Sister Mary Matthew noted that, "If you want to give the Lord a laugh, tell Him your plans.")

I'm very much looking forward to reacquainting myself with this group of people. How lucky we are, to have known each other and to have the chance to reflect on what we've become.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Free web tutorials

Always alert grad-school buddy Susan (who isn't a blogger, but should be) sent this nifty link my way. According to the site, they offer,
"Full Web Building Tutorials - All Free
At W3Schools you will find all the Web-building tutorials you need, from basic HTML and XHTML to advanced XML, SQL, Database, Multimedia and WAP."
If you're the default web guru at your library and find yourself wondering where to start, here's the place.

They're coming....

Exciting new post this morning from Chrystie on the OCLC blog, It's All Good:
Today I'm visiting Metronet, MINITEX, and the Minnesota State Library Services (division of the Minnesota Dept. of Education), aka "the 3Ms" on the subject of WebJunction Minnesota. Their site goes live in September and we're (myself and colleague Jeff hall) here to get to know 3M staff a little better, as well as develop a project plan for implementing whatever WJ-MN is to become. I'm excited about this partnership because it's the first time we're working within a statewide collaboration in order to offer the customized site. This should get us off the ground early with a number of participants (though they already have some WJ cheerleaders in these parts!) as well as welcome a number of different types of libraries to become involved.
I'm admittedly one of those cheerleaders, and I'm delighted Minnesota is now a partner! I can't wait to see what's in store...

Monday, June 19, 2006


A week or so ago, I was given rhubarb by my swell neighbor, Emily. I grabbed some strawberries and started to surf for recipes for Strawberry Rhubarb Pie, which is one of my favorites. As luck would have it, a great blog called Tigers and Strawberries had a recipe that I tried. Fabulous. Absolutely fabulous. And easy.

While talking blogging in Mt. Iron last week, Renee was kind enough to bring rhubarb treats, and I told her about this pie. Here's the link, Renee! Enjoy!

Friday, June 16, 2006

I stand corrected.

In response to my language rant, Parkdalian responds:
At the risk of being a quibbler I feel I must point out that orientated is indeed a word.

Being a librarian, of course I checked. Ask Oxford provided the answer:
Frequently Asked Questions
Which is the correct spelling: 'oriented' or 'orientated'?

It really doesn't matter: it's a matter of personal taste. Orientated is currently preferred use in general British use. Oriented is prevalent in technical use, and in the US.

I stand corrected. I guess this makes me a true American. ; )

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Kitchen, in process

No, it's not done yet. Perhaps in my lifetime. But here's an updated photo.

Blogging class, afternoon session

We're here again, with a new group of folks. Renee brought rhubarb treats, as promised (yay!) and they're furiously blogging as we speak.

Becky - Two Harbors Library
Ginny - Gilbert Public Library
Marcia - Grand Rapids Area Library
Tandy - already has one, but came to hangout anyway. Tandy is at Itsmylife1
Renee - DPLmystery
Debby - Babbitt Public Library
Kathy - DogsNStuff
Sarah - Imaginary Fiend
Nancy - Duluth PL
Mark - ALS-Arrowhead
Rebecca - MN Voluntary Certification

Trading card

I finally created a librarian trading card.

Blogging class

We're here in Mt. Iron, talking all things blog. Eleven librarians are here, creating blogs! The new blogs are:

Sally - Mt. Iron Public Library
Linda - Grand Marais Public Library
Julie - Undecided 3 (she can't decide at the moment...she'll work on that.)
Dave - Not Prose Poetry (also temporary - though I like that name!)
Shelley - Iron Range Librarian
Pam - NCLC Notes
Roxanne - Mbook4teens
Sara - judysbaggystories
Sharon - mailabooksummerreadingprogram
Paula - Aurora Public Library Minnesota
Shari - ALS current events

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

On the road again....

....or I will be shortly. I'm off to Mt. Iron again, to teach the blogging classes promised when I traveled through with Michael.

It should be a lovely trip and an exciting time; two classes of eleven are registered!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Paradigm shift?

Much has been said lately about how we need to embrace the technology our patrons are using, rather than insist that our way is better. Take a look at today's Dilbert cartoon. Hmmmm.

Friday, June 09, 2006

The name of the game

Excellent post by Stephen Abram today on library workstations:
I visit too many libraries that have public workstations that are purposefully made dysfunctional (often by IT teams with good intentions but poor understanding of how these PC's are tended to be used). Too many library public PC's don't have any productivity tools on them (word processing and spreadsheets for example), while some disable the USB ports or disallow IM, even e-mail!, etc. Some talk in their annual reports about their efforts to bridge the digital divide with public stations where these good intentions are somewhat negated by their actual implementations. One amusing story happened when I was in one library that let people print to hard copy at no charge (good) but patrons could not make an electronic copy and add it to their, document, bibliography or paper, etc. It was suggested that people could e-mail it to themselves and have an e-copy that way. I was met with blank stares when I asked how many of the people who were using library PC's because they had no PC of their own would find that useful.
He goes on to offer a number of free services - most of which are offered by Google - that will allow patrons to do what they need to do on the library computers.

It still amazes me that there are librarians who are choosing to ignore the patron's needs for their own convenience. Having been a library director, I get the issues that can arise and the fixes that are all too tempting to put into place. I sat at one of the public access computers one morning, removing the various and sundry programs that had been installed against library policy again, grumbling that if I ever found the culprit, I was going to put his head on a spike in front of the library as a warning to others. (The two teens sitting on either side of me looked a bit worried.) Once I had security measures put in place, however, I didn't have those issues any more - all I had to do was reboot the machine and whatever had been done magically went away. Best $300 I ever spent.

The moral here is that there are programs out there that will help you protect the library's server and data, while allowing the patrons to do what they need to do. It's a matter of starting to think about how we can allow them to do whatever, rather than continually plotting to prevent them from doing whatever.

Customer service is the name of the game. Not in an eye-rolling, condescending sort of way, but real customer service, where we actually try to think about what the customer (patron) wants and then find a way to provide it. Much has been tossed about in the biblioblogosphere of late about Library 2.0 and how cool technology can be, etc. The real issue, however, isn't the cool technology. Look past the blogs and wikis and rss feeds and what you'll see is a concern for serving the customer. And while all those cool tools are....well,'s the customer service that will keep people coming back.


A few weeks ago, there was a news item that listed working in a library as one of the most stressful jobs. I'm not sure I agree with that - having worked both in the retail world and as a stockbroker, being a librarian is pretty low-key by comparison. However, there apparently are folks who feel that being a librarian is stressful.

Perhaps libraries should take a page from the business world. (In more ways that one, really, but that's another post.) From Reuter's, a story about how businesses are providing massages and yoga breaks for their workers. I could definitely be on-board for that!

Thursday, June 08, 2006


From Steve Lawson's blog See Also, a delightfully funny conversation between a biblioblogger and a branch librarian.

Love it.

H/T Michael.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Blog idea

One of the perks in traveling the state with Michael a few weeks ago was the opportunity to meet some wonderful librarians. One of the librarians in particular traveled a long way (300 miles!) to attend Michael's workshop. Phyllis is from Wausau, Wisconsin, and works for the Marathon County Public Library.

Phyllis emailed me yesterday with a terrific idea, and was kind enough to allow me to share:
I was thinking of the blog workshop that you're doing at Arrowhead and thought I'd mention the events blogs that we use at Marathon County. It was an easy solution to the problem we were having getting current events posted to our web site. We don't have many people on staff who can work with FrontPage. I set up a blog, trained a couple people on updating it, and now each day the daily events is updated. It's a use of blogs where you don't have to think of something to say. The calendar was mentioned at a recent consortium meeting and some sounded interested so I thought I'd pass it on to you.
Terrific idea, and a great way to get people started on blogging!


I'm driving to work this morning, listening to NPR, and a reporter noted that "the writing has been on the wall literally for 15 years."

Unless there's a wall somewhere with writing on it, the writing hasn't LITERALLY been on the wall!


Literally is used incorrectly so often, I'm beginning to wonder if people know the meaning of the word.

While I'm on the subject of pet peeves, let me throw out a few others....
Irregardless is not a word. The word is regardless.

Orientated is not a word. You can be oriented, or attend orientation. You can not be orientated.

To say that the meeting is at "9 a.m. in the morning" is redundant.

"Consensus of opinion" is redundant. A consensus is a gathering of opinions.

And would someone please tell me when disrespect became a verb??? I can treat you with disrespect, show you disrespect, be treated's an adverb. Not a verb. To say that you're disrespecting me is nonsense.

So, now that I have that off my chest....what are your pet peeves? What language mixups drive you crazy?

Monday, June 05, 2006

Take a moment

An amazing site called the Quiet American has a series of audio recordings, and one fascinating and fabulous feature is a series of short audio files entitled "One-Minute Vacations." Take a listen to the beach in San Franciso, or of ice cracking in St. Paul.

Just what you need to decompress.

Dead book

Delightful story from a grad school classmate, who works at an unnamed university library in an unnamed midwestern city:

A student called me to ask about replacing a damaged book (students can't graduate unless they return their overdue books or replace them). He wanted to know how much it would cost to replace a book with a damaged cover. Since I repair books, too, I know that books with damaged covers, even ones with the cover off the text block or the cover in three or four pieces, can still be fixed. So I asked him some questions about the kind of damage the book had, all the while reassuring him that I've fixed many books that were in terrible shape. I kept trying to get him to tell me exactly what what was wrong with the book but he avoided the questions. Finally he decided to tell me what happened.

"Well, it was the last day of classes and my buddies and I are all graduating seniors, right? So we decided to go and blow off some steam. Ummm, we went to the range at Fernwood Park…"

"The shooting range?"

"Yeah. We took our textbooks. I accidentally took one of your library books along and…"

"You shot it?"

"Yeah. But I didn't mean to."

I couldn't help it. I started laughing. I also had to admit that was something I couldn't fix.

* A moment of silence here in memory of the books that were lost that day. *

I made him promise to bring the damaged book back to the library when he came to pay for the replacement. When he brought it in the next day, the entire staff was waiting. It was just the funniest thing ever. He couldn't believe we weren't totally honked off about it. Honestly, we'd spent the day before thinking of titles in the collection that we would gladly have contributed to the event.

Anyway, the book is sitting on my desk. For the record, he's a really
bad shot.

One of the wonderful things about this story (aside from the fact that it's hilarious) is that the library staff were not only gracious, but had a great sense of humor about the whole incident. I would imagine this student has a great story of his own, about how the librarians were totally cool. And how fabulous is that?

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Must read

For every libarian (and you know who you are) who has

a) whined about their patrons,
b) bemoaned new technology, or
c) longed for the "good old days"....

K.G. Schneider at Free Range Librarian has a must-read post: The User Is Not Broken: A meme masquerading as a manifesto.

Hear, hear!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Websites as graphs

Fascinating. View your website as a graph. To the left is the NewlyMinted Librarian graph. It's almost frameable!Check it out.

Thanks to Michael's Flickr page for the hat tip.

Hot Spot

A recent article in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel lists area wi-fi spots and their various advantages. Most of them, not surprisingly, are coffee shops and cafes. However, I was delighted to find that the Milwaukee Public Library was prominently mentioned - and very favorably.

The Milwaukee Public Library's Central Library on W. Wisconsin Ave. has some of the fastest free Wi-Fi in town.

There are countless places to set up, including two-person tables at the Coffee With a Conscious Café on the first floor, scores of tables on the second floor and shaded tables outside in the garden area facing Wisconsin Ave., where the wireless signal is still strong.

One of the best spots is in the periodicals section on the second floor, offering some laptop stations and tables along the north wall with a great view of the courthouse and Milwaukee Public Museum. Power outlets are available but not abundant - many tables are in rows in the middle of the rooms.

If you don't feel like driving downtown, remember that all Milwaukee Public Library branches have free Wi-Fi. But please mute your laptop and try to type quietly - people are reading, after all.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Huge fangs!

True to the name, the Laughing Librarian has posted a wonderful rant on the subject of reading rabbits. Or, rather, the menace of reading rabbits. Enjoy.