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So you want to know what is --
And also what is not.

Robyn Hitchcock. "Belltown Ramble."

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You see, I don't believe that libraries should be drab places where people sit in silence, and that's been the main reason for our policy of employing wild animals as librarians.

"Gorilla Librarian." Monty Python's Flying Circus, http://orangecow.org/pythonet/sketches/gorilla.htm

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Turn strangers into friends.
Turn friends into customers.
And then... do the most important job:
Turn your customers into salespeople.

Seth Godin. "Flipping the Funnel." in Small Is the New Big, 2006

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Sharing is under siege. It is the sworn enemy of the global market - which is why so much of international trade law is designed to criminalize sharing.

Naomi Klein, "Why Being a Librarian is a Radical Choice." An address to the Joint American Library Association/Canadian Library Association Conference, June 24 2003. http://www.dissidentvoice.org/Articles7/Klein_Librarian.htm

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The whole concept of libraries originated with private collections being made public. It was recognized early on that access to literature on every discipline would help create the kind of society we yearn for. Julius Caesar reportedly burned the fabulous Library of Alexandria, knowing it would be a bit of a sore point for his enemy.

I won't feign ignorance about governments having to make hard decisions in dispersing public funds; but neither should taxpayers feign surprise when, after all the topsoil has been hauled away, a tree refuses to grow.

Lorraine Sommerfeld. "Library cutbacks are shortsighted solution." Toronto Star, August 6, 2007, http://www.thestar.com/living/article/243418

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My recurring fantasy about libraries is that at night, after everyone goes home, , the books come to life and mingle in a fabulous cocktail party. Finally, the poor biographies, languishing in exile during the day, get to join their compatriots.

Neal Wyatt. The Readers Advisory Guide to Nonfiction. ALA 2007, p. 6

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The whole concept of libraries originated with private collections being made public. It was recognized early on that access to literature on every discipline would help create the kind of society we yearn for. Julius Caesar reportedly burned the fabulous Library of Alexandria, knowing it would be a bit of a sore point for his enemy.

I won't feign ignorance about governments having to make hard decisions in dispersing public funds; but neither should taxpayers feign surprise when, after all the topsoil has been hauled away, a tree refuses to grow.

Lorraine Sommerfeld. "Library cutbacks are shortsighted solution." Toronto Star, August 6, 2007, http://www.thestar.com/living/article/243418

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Do you know what the "comma-stupid" phrase is for your product or service? In other words, do you know what is most meaningful for your users? Because whatever that word or phrase is (i.e. the part that comes before the ", stupid!"), it should be driving everything from product development to documentation to support and marketing.

Kathy Sierra. "It's the [? Stupid!"]." Creating Passionate Users, February 1, 2006, http://headrush.typepad.com/creating_passionate_users/2006/02/its_the_stupid.html

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The penalty for asking the wrong question can easily be decades of misunderstanding.

Peter Copeland. "Plate Tectonics." Engines of Our Ingenuity #2188, http://www.uh.edu/engines/epi2188.htm

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Peering ahead is mostly art. We all have tricks. One of mine is to look for “honey-pot ideas” drawing lots of fad attention. Whatever’s fashionable, try to poke at it. Maybe 1 percent of the time you’ll find a trend or possibility that’s been missed. Another method is even simpler: Respect the masses. Nearly all futuristic movies and novels—even sober business forecasts—seem to wallow in the same smug assumption that most people are fools. This stereotype led content owners to envision the Internet as a delivery conduit to sell movies to passive couch potatoes. Even today, many of the social-net and virtual-world companies treat their users like giggling 13-year-olds incapable of expressing more than a sentence at a time of actual discourse.

David Brin. "David Brin Predicts the Future." Discover, June 7, 2007, http://discovermagazine.com/2007/jun/the-discover-interview-david-brin

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So where do you go to find a researcher who is intelligent, imaginative, skilled in the use of computers, devoted to discovering the truth, and knowledgeable about science, technology, history, and literature and who usually works for dirt and gets credit for nothing?

After lunch I drove to the city library on Main and asked the reference librarian to find what she could on ...

James Lee Burke. Last Car to Elysian Fields. Simon & Schuster, 2003.

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Book lovers will understand me, and they will know too that part of the pleasure of a library lies in its very existence

Jan Morris. Quoted in Heart of the Community: The Libraries We Love.

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One of the things I learned in library school is that when people have an information need, they'll always ask people they know before they ask a librarian. The trick is making sure that librarians are some of the people they know.

Jessamyn West. "Metafilter: Going Your Way." Library Journal, Oct. 15, 2006, http://libraryjournal.com/article/CA6379558.html

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Everyone speaks of an information overload, but what there was in fact was a non-information overload.

Saul Wurman. What-If, Could Be. 1976.

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The library didn't only contain magical books, the ones which are chained to the shelves and are very dangerous. It also contained perfectly ordinary books, printed on commonplace paper in mundane ink. It would be a mistake to think that they weren't also dangerous just because reading them didn't make fireworks go off in the sky. Reading them sometimes did the more dangerous trick of making fireworks go off in the privacy of the reader's brain.

Terry Pratchett. Soul Music.

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Libraries struggle because they manage a resource which is fragmented and 'off-web'. It is fragmented by user interface, by title, by subject division, by vocabulary. It is a resource very much organised by publisher interest, rather than by user need, and the user may struggle to know which databases are of potential value. By off-web, I mean that a resource hides its content behind its user interface and is not available to open web approaches. Increasingly, to be on-web is to be available in Google or other open web approaches.

These factors mean that library resources exercise a weak gravitational pull. They impose high transaction costs on a potential user. They also make it difficult to build services out on top of an integrated resource, to make it more interesting to users than a collection of databases.

Lorcan Dempsey. "Metasearch, Google and the Rest." Lorcan Dempsey's weblog, March 20, 2005, http://orweblog.oclc.org/archives/000615.html

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Google doesn't try to force things to happen their way. They try to figure out what's going to happen, and arrange to be standing there when it does. That's the way to approach technology-- and as business includes an ever larger technological component, the right way to do business.

Paul Graham. "Web 2.0." November, 2005. http://www.paulgraham.com/web20.html

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All too often, especially in larger settings, bureaucracy creates tidy little job descriptions into which staff are jailed. What this mathematically driven system does not take into account is that human beings are complex creatures with more than one ability. A person may be a whiz at answering reference questions, but what if they can also sew a very convincing Sponge Bob costume? Will the Youth Services Department go without this asset because costuming is not in the job description for reference? Maybe your cataloguer is expert at Microsoft Access. Will he/she be allowed to work on a database for the Circulation people, or will it be more important to protect one's turf?

Our library looks expensive because we have a cataloger doing an RA newsletter, a reference clerk writing music, and circulation clerks putting up displays. Does this make our organizational chart a little fuzzy? Maybe. Welcome to the human race. And I dare you to find a bored KPL staffer!

Steve Bertrand, Assistant Director, Kankakee Public Library, on the library's blog She Said/He Said, Nov. 15 2006, http://lions-online-shesaidhesaid.blogspot.com/2006/11/talent-20.html

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Commons are a form of social lubrication. Some things must be free for the rest of life to function smoothly. That includes the market. Free sidewalks in a city bring customers to the merchant's door. Free information in the library feeds invention that becomes new enterprise. The commons feeds the market and the market feeds the commons; without the merchants, the sidewalks would be empty, as Wall Street used to be on week-ends before the opening of the South Street Seaport nearby. Pure symbiosis.

Jonathan Rowe. "Sidewalks of the Mind." On the Commons, December 2, 2004 http://onthecommons.org/node/457

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We increasingly live in a complicated world in which those things that can be done in one click get done, and those that can't, don't.

Brad DeLong. "One-Click Rules." Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal, October 18, 2006, http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2006/10/oneclick_rules.html#trackback

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But what, really, is the word "marketing" loaded with? For librarians, I think it might sound too sales-ish, which is a direct affront to our core values of free and equal access to anyone and everyone regardless of their social or economic status. We don't sell things, we provide services after all. Right?...Wrong! OF COURSE we sell things! We sell the idea that information literacy is an important skill to have; we sell our expertise as information providers; we sell our values of privacy and equal access to information; we sell our buildings as community hubs and we sell our collections. We sell all the time, everyday, and we even profit from it. We count our profits in terms of gate counts, circulation, positive word-of-mouth, repeat users and yes, even money in the form donations and special taxes. Moreover, there's nothing wrong with this. You can call "selling" persuading, convincing, or educating, and you can refer to "profits" as higher usage, bigger budgets, or an information-literate public, but it's all the same thing.

Jill Stover. "Marketing Is Code for Customer Service." Library Marketing, January 5, 2006, http://librarymarketing.blogspot.com/2006/01/marketing-is-code-for-customer-service.html

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The user is not broken. Your system is broken until proven otherwise... The most significant help you can provide your users is to add value and meaning to the information experience, wherever it happens; defend their right to read; and then get out of the way... Information flows down the path of least resistance. If you block a tool the users want, users will go elsewhere to find it. You cannot change the user, but you can transform the user experience to meet the user. Meet people where they are--not where you want them to be.

Karen G. Schneider. "The User Is Not Broken." Free Range Librarian, June 3, 2006 http://freerangelibrarian.com/2006/06/the_user_is_not_broken_a_meme.php

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Edward Abbey once said of wilderness "we may need it someday not only as a refuge from excessive industrialism but also as a refuge from authoritarian government, from political oppression." I think we need public libraries in the same way we need wilderness. Both are sanctuaries of a king. Both are storehouses of diversity.

Anna Kirkpatrick, quoted in Beyond Words: BC's Public Libraries Are Changing Lives.

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According to one map-making friend, creating walkshed maps... would be a relatively simple Google Maps “Mash Up.” Anyone know of such a tool? Anyone volunteer to do this project? I’d love to have a detailed map stowed in the “glove box” of our Burley of all 248 businesses in my home zone. Ideally, I would want a walking map or PDA application that shows me the whereabouts of public restrooms, water fountains, bike racks, curb cuts, bus stops, and benches."

Worldchanging, http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/004301.html#more

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As I browsed each, I was struck that I kept looking for the user-contributed content. The comments by play-goers, readers, people who reported additional details or perceptions about the people and activities being presented. This was, for me, another example of how a particular kind of offering - in this case sites which solicit user-contributed content - is creating a general expectation. Without user-contributed content, each of these sites seemed - to me anyway - slightly flat or inert. This is probably unfair to the creators of the sites, but it is how I responded. And I certainly wouldn't have felt this way a couple of years ago.

Lorcan Dempsey. "Changing Expectations (Again)." Lorcan Dempsey's Weblog, January 2, 2006, http://orweblog.oclc.org/archives/000909.html

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Libraries are not just for reading in, but for sociable thinking, exploring, exchanging ideas and falling in love. They were never silent. Technology will not change that, for even in the starchiest heyday of Victorian self-improvement, libraries were intended to be meeting places of the mind, recreational as well as educational.

Ben Macintyre, "Paradise Is Paper, Vellum, and Dust." Times Online, December 18, 2004, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,1068-1407490,00.html

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The librarians would never kick you out because you were allowed to sit around and read. I didn't have to worry about any kids bothering me too much because most bullies wouldn't go to the library and if they did the librarian kept them in check.

Patricia Cook, quoted in Beyond Words: BC's Public Libraries Are Changing Lives.

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Humans have extreme difficulty in actually seeing a comparative difference of less than 15%. I once read that research shows that when we see the light from 100 candles, we don’t see a difference in brightness until 115 candles are lit. Interesting - I understand that the same thing is true of sound volume, color variation, and other matters of human perception. Indeed, in job evaluation systems, jobs are not considered sufficiently different until there is a 12.5-15% difference in the job’s points. So, what I have learned here is that innovation needs to be sufficiently different from what was there before for humans (users) to see the difference.

Stephen Abram. SirsiOneSource: 32 Tips To Inspire Innovation for You and Your LIbrary, Part I, http://www.imakenews.com/sirsi/e_article000423643.cfm?x=b4TcM1g,b2rpmkgK,w

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Freedom means learning to deal with being offended.

Andrew Sullivan. "Your Taboo, Not Mine." Time, February 13, 2006, p. 100

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Can people be disruptive technologies? Christensen suggests as much when he identifies nurse practitioners as disruptive technologies (physicians were the established technologies). I find the notion of librarians and information professionals being disruptive technologies extremely appealing. What a wonderful role to assume! I'm not just a librarian. I don't just work in an information department. I don't just perform research using online tools. I'm a disruptive technology. If information professionals are disruptive technologies, and we are, I suggest we enjoy this pivotal role, relish our power, rethink our priorities, and assert our distinctiveness.

Marydee Ojala. "Disruptive? Who You Calling Disruptive?" Online, July-August, 2004, http://www.infotoday.com/online/jul04/homepage.shtml

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Does research influence policy? Certainly it does. Especially bad research.

Yes, it would be nice to have evidence-based policy-making. But even if we can't get that, perhaps we can do away with policy-based evidence-making.

Anonymous. Quoted by Mark Kleiman, in "Sad but True." The Reality-Based Community, November 23, 2005. http://www.samefacts.com/archives/_/2005/11/sad_but_true.php

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I think it’s a debate in the wider library world as well: are we (and you) using our resources and technology to disseminate information? Or are we (and you) using our information-dissemination capabilities to build communities?

Put another way, does your library, and your library’s web site, create the impression that there are people there (like Yahoo)? Or does it give you the impression that there are vast resources available to you (like Google)?

Joe Anderson, at BlogJunction, February 6, 2006, http://webjunction.lishost.org/?p=161

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Well, we know how to use our book knowledge, the stuff we get tested on, as far as it goes. But what are we to do in the realm of our not-knowing? Knowledge is the stuff of an education, but wisdom also requires knowing how little we know. And the stores of our not-knowing are limitless.

Marvin Bell. Commencement Address, Alfred University, 2002. Reprinted in Take This Advice: the Most Nakedly Honest Graduation Speeches Ever Given. Simon Spotlight Entertainment, 2005

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Where does the power and accountability lie in this fluid process? Who gets to say who alters what document, and under what circumstance? Who made it? Who owns it? Who keeps it? Who stores it? Who rents it, copies it, shows it to the public? Who are the responsible parties and who are the legitimate users? Who benefits? And – this is no small matter in digital archiving – who pays for all that?

Oceans of information get "saved" on file servers, on personal hard drives, CD-ROMs, and DVDs – but none of these are true archives. Archives are matters of conscious, human choice and formal organisation. Archives are not a pile of files any more than a pile of bricks is a library. Archives can be created and maintained only by thorough, controlled, curatorial processes that take humanity's dank heaps of general blether, and enhance them. Archives add quality, trustworthiness, usability, and the power to last into the indefinite future.

Bruce Sterling. "Delete our cultural heritage?" The Telegraph, July 12, 2004. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2004/07/12/badigit10.xml&sSheet=/arts/2004/07/12/ixartright.html

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God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose. Take which you please - you can never have both.

Ralph Waldo Emerson. "Intellect."

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The idea of outreach is to get the library into places in the community that may not otherwise make use of the library. It also serves to get librarians out of the library. Many librarians are “out” in their community but many are not. At my old public library job, there was a clear benefit to having reference librarians who had lived in town for decades. This was much more important than my technology knowledge, though the two complemented each other strongly. I know it’s a crazy idea but I’d think that all big libraries should have librarians who don’t work in the library at all. Bookmobile drivers and dog and pony show people, but also people who staff information desks at community events, hang out with seniors at the senior center and kids at the battered women’s shelter. The web forced us as a profession talk about “outside the box” service, but shouldn’t we have been thinking about that all along? My job takes me to many libraries and technology centers and I find that an important part of my job is the bardic role of telling librarians and computer users about other librarians and computer users, sharing their stories. One of the most important parts of grappling with frustrations and setbacks is realizing that it’s not just you, that you’re not alone. Part of the divide in the digital divide is people not knowing anyone or any place where they can go get answers to tech questions, or even if their questions are easy or hard.

Jessamyn West. Library 2.0: How Do You Share? Librarian.net, http://www.librarian.net/stax/15710

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A library may look like a single building, but please don't be misled by the walls. It's a single link in an enormous chain. It's a single being in a gigantic ecosystem of words and thoughts and ideas.

Shula Klinger, Richmond, BC. Quoted in Beyond Words: BC's Public Libraries Are Changing Lives.

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I remember the feeling of being in the library as a child. Belonging. Peace. Warmth. Inviting shades of rusty orange in the carpeting, in the fall leaves blanketing the ravine below the window. I remember the brightness of the morning sunlight and its heat coming through that window, washing over me like a warm bath. The window looked out from a cozy reading nook, which I felt was just for me. With its view from above, this hollowed out corner of the children’s section felt like an indoor tree house. I sat at the window, and I gazed out at a world that seemed separate from the cocoon of the library. I remember the feeling of being in the library, of being hypnotized, of being entranced, of being at home.

Actually, I wanted quite literally to make the library my home. I daydreamed about turning that nook into my bedroom. I imagined covering the area completely with pillows, the kind you put your head on. What perfect heaven it would be, I thought, to rest my entire body on pillow! How perfect it would be to wake up every morning to the brilliant sunshine that made me squint my eyes till the light became stars through my lashes, and I was drawn into quiet, inner, sparkling possibility.

Amanda McKinley. Beyond Words, http://www.beyondwords.ca/Default.aspx

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...facts rarely present themselves cleaned up and alone, ready to be admired and fussed over. Instead, nature bestows her blessings buried in mountains of garbage, and scientists rarely know what they have their hands on until they've sifted through the mess, laboriously, patiently, piece by piece.

K.C. Cole. The Universe and the Teacup. Harcourt Brace, 1997.

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As we design new services to reach our users where they happen to be, we should focus on experience..and create an identity for the library and ourselves… and remember that emotion may be a guiding factor. Does your new building make users happy? Engage them with space or art? Does it offer a way for users to express themselves, such as digital creation stations for recording of user-created `casts of all types or hands on access to the latest technology? Simply put, does the library have an identity within its community?

Michael Stephens. "Librarians' Reading List: The Future of Music." in ALA TechSource, October 18, 2005, http://www.techsource.ala.org/blog/blog_detail.php?blog_id=75#comments

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Up to now, books still represent the most economical, flexible, wash-and-wear way to transport information at a very low cost. Computer communication travels ahead of you; books travel with you and at your speed. If you are shipwrecked on a desert island, where you don't have the option of plugging in a computer, a book is still a valuable instrument. Even if your computer has solar batteries, you cannot easily read it while lying in a hammock. Books are still the best companions for a shipwreck, or for the day after the night before. Books belong to those kinds of instruments that, once invented, have not been further improved because they are already alright, such as the hammer, the knife, spoon or scissors.

Umberto Eco. Vegetal and Mineral Memory: the Future of Books." lecture at the newly opened Bibliotheca Alexandrina. Al-Ahram Weekly, 20 - 26 November 2003 http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2003/665/bo3.htm

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Readers transform a library from a mausoleum into many theaters.

Mason Cooley. City Aphorisms, Eleventh Selection, New York (1993).

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The most important function of the public library is to provide a place and an incentive for children to progress in reading. The library is a compounding device: it allows a child to multiply the efforts of parents and the school, and provides the materials to make this process possible.

Michael McGrorty, Library Dust, June 14, 2005. http://librarydust.typepad.com/library_dust/2005/06/moving_librarie.html

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If I have an apple and you have an orange. We each have one piece of fruit. I give you my apple and you give me your orange, we each still have one piece of fruit. Now, in another scenario, I have an idea and you also have a good idea. I share my idea with you and you share your idea with me. We each now have TWO good ideas. See the difference?

Now put this on a global scale, speed it up with better idea and information storage and distribution, and you see the power of the idea storehouses of our culture. Libraries. Hmmmmm.

Stephen Abram. "Things That Make You Say Hmm. Stephen's Lighthouse, July 28, 2005. http://stephenslighthouse.sirsi.com/archives/2005/07/things_that_mak.html

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It turns out that our individual striving goes on within a web of social protections that we take for granted until they disappear. We rely on each other more than we know. The rich, the middle class and the poor -- all of us -- bank on law, government, collective action and public goods more than we ever want to admit. The dreaded word "infrastructure" puts people to sleep at city council meetings and congressional hearings. But when publicly built infrastructure -- those levees that held for so many years -- breaks down, we realize that the things that seem boring and not worth thinking about are essential.

E.J. Dionne. "When Government Is Good." Washington Post, September 2, 2005 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/01/AR2005090102032.html

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The assistance provided by actual humans is another killer app. In these days when customer support means hours on hold or an e-mail response, the opportunity to talk to a trained specialist about a problem is priceless. Andy Barnett. Libraries, Community, and Technology. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2002, p. 27

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Teens are huge users of the web. Duh! While it shouldn't need to be stated, it's important to remember that when we are developing our 5 and 10 year plans and visions: 1. All the high school age users of our libraries are teens. 2. Within five years they will be just about all of our undergraduate student users. 3. In 10-15 years they will be the majority of the parents of the kids in our school programs.

If you're going to focus on someone to influence and have a positive view of libraries, just about every one of them is already born already.

Stephen Abram. Stephen's Lighthouse, August 15, 2005 http://stephenslighthouse.sirsi.com/

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Get rid of Marian the Librarian, but remember what else we do, too. Please. We hold hands. We open eyes. We walk through doors with people through the information we provide. We boldly go where no one has gone before, through teaching people to read, showing them new possiblities, giving them options. One piece of information has the power to change someone's life, and we get to do it every day. Every day!

"On the Good Ship Librarian." FeelGoodLibrarian, June 29, 2005 http://feelgoodlibrarian.typepad.com/feelgood_librarian/
2005/06/on_the_good_shi.html


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When people think of a library, they sometimes think of a particular structure or a room from their past. More often, when asked to think of a library, people will think of a librarian who worked there. A circulation desk where they were greeted. A story time where they learned the magic of reading. A book that was recommended by that helpful person behind the desk. A library seems like a building, but it is actually a process, and a main feature of that process is that the library's staff is there to help.

Andy Barnett. Libraries, Community, and Technology. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2002, p. 88

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Prefer action over study. If you or your team is studying something to death - remember that death was not the original goal! I have been in libraries where their systems folks in the host institution were studying whether to upgrade from Windows 95 to 98 in 2005! Scary. Although we have a great core competency in research and study, we must know when to fish or cut bait. In risk-averse cultures this is particularly difficult. What needs to be learned and understood is that delay is as big a risk as poorly considered action.

Stephen Abram. SirsiOneSource: 32 Tips To Inspire Innovation for You and Your LIbrary, Part I, http://www.imakenews.com/sirsi/e_article000423643.cfm?x=b4TcM1g,b2rpmkgK,w

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When noted travel writer William Least Heat Moon travels the country gathering material for his books, he makes it a practice to stop at the local library. They can always tell him why the community has such a funny name, who is the last remaining descendant of the founding family, and where to go to see historic ruins.

Andy Barnett. Libraries, Community, and Technology. McFarland & Company, 2002. P. 61

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The library forms community partnerships to achieve specific goals: to reach new users, to reach library users in a new way, to tap into community assets and strengths, to gain support for library resources/programs, to gain valuable feedback, and to create new resources. An engagement or marriage is successful if it helps the library achieve one or more of theser goals.

From the form Williamsburg Regional Library uses to propose the formation of a partnership. In Partnering with Purpose. Libraries Unlimited, 2005, p. 45.

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Life did not take over the globe by combat but by networking.

Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan. Microcosmos: Four Billion Years of Evolution from Our Microbial Ancestors. University of California Press, 1997.

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Society says education will happen at this and that point in your life, doled out in didactic spoonfuls; libraries say learning can be lifelong and at your pace. Society says to use these textbooks and those measurements; librarianship says there are no textbooks and measurements, only the information you want and need. Society says education is to be endured through endless hours in dolorous classrooms; librarianship says reading is a joy. Do it in the library, in your home, on a streetcar, on a blanket at the beach. Read novels and histories and joke books and newspapers and People and American Scholar. Read blogs all day. Write blogs all day. Read the last page of every John Cheever story. Play podcasts backwards. Read two books a day or one a year. Go for it! Information is not a nasty-tasting medicine but a lily of the field.

Karen Schneider in Free Range Librarian, May 29, 2005 http://freerangelibrarian.com/archives/052905/wikipedia.php

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All who work for the good of public libraries know that we will need some careful navigation to get them to a safer harbour. But this we must do. Our links to the past, our bonds with the present, our path to a civilized tomorrow are all maintained by libraries. They are agencies of the public good. They allow all of us to be, as the Hebrew saying goes, pilgrims at the gate of a new city. They are sources of knowledge and imagination, and they never allow us to forget that we are always at a threshold, constantly at the verge of creating anew our civil society. Whether or not we are able to see it realized in our own lifetimes, all of us, as individuals and in our communities, are striving for that city – that eternal city of the good and the beautiful and the true. And the public library, for me, has always been a lovely part of that vision.

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson Speech on the Occasion of a Luncheon Hosted by the Regina Public Library. http://www.gg.ca/media/doc.asp?lang=e&DocID=4443

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The aforementioned Media Center has a "Thinking Paper" available called We Media: How Audiences are Shaping the Future of Media and Information that I would say is a "must read". From the introduction: "There are three ways to look at how society is informed.The first is that people are gullible and will read, listen to, or watch just about anything. The second is that most people require an informed intermediary to tell them what is good, important or meaningful. The third is that people are pretty smart; given the means, they can sort things out for themselves, find their own version of the truth. The means have arrived. The truth is out there."

Librarians, journalists, DJs, film makers...we're all "informed intermediaries" and our professional worlds are all being impacted by the arrival of the third way of society informing itself. None of us own "the means" anymore.

Alane Wilson, It's All Good, March 4, 2005, http://scanblog.blogspot.com/2005/03/ whose-news-media-technology-and-common.html

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It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.

Isaac Asimov.

******


I'd written the following some 10 years earlier, on the acknowledgements page of Wag the Dog," thanking my local librarians: We get most of our information in shallow, predigested sound bites and headlines. Whenever we want, or need, to look a little deeper, to think a little more seriously, our libraries are our most effective resource. Frequently, our only resource. Certainly, for the average person, the only affordable one.

Larry Beinhart (author of The Librarian), 'Narrating through the non-fiction.' AlterNet,December 3, 2004 http://www.alternet.org/election04/20655/

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At the root of the problem is a kind of indifference bordering on neglect on the part of library patrons, and a kind of neglect bordering on negligence on the part of public officials. There is hardly anyone who is against libraries. Rather, library budgets are being cut or restrained almost by default to fund other, more tangible services. No one's life is in danger because they can't get their hands on one of Shakespeare's plays, and so libraries are often undervalued by local officials bent on preserving "essential services."

But in fact, libraries are essential. Reading is still the most basic survival skill in today's information-driven society. Moreover, the gap between rich and poor is widening, and the libraries level the playing field.

A danger greater than closing is that if we keep pauperizing libraries, they will deteriorate to the point that it will not be worth going at all. For children from homes where the only book is the telephone directory, the library is their one great hope. But if they go and find nothing to read, they will soon be watching television instead.

William Ecenbarger. "Libraries Are an Essential Service, Too." Christian Science Monitor March 11, 2005 http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0311/p09s01-coop.html

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The sorry proclamation: I didn't have a choice is abdication from imagination. Kenneth Clark understood that when he said of Leonardo DaVinci, "He would not take yes for an answer."

That's a wonderful idea: Yes can be as dead an end as No. That's why a good designer keeps looking for improvement even after all the constraints have been satisfied.

John Lienhard, No. 1989: "I Didn't Have a Choice." Engines of our Ingenuity, http://www.uh.edu/engines/epi1989.htm

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The economic or rational assumption that a manager will seek out a colleague as an information source because he or she values the individual's level of knowledge is not always the correct assumption. The results support that relationship, more than knowledge, is the reason an individual is sought as an information source. A plausible explanation for such an insight is that seeking information under pressure is an uncomfortable behaviour for managers; they prefer to be the source, solution, and providers of information. Also, because of perceptions defining their role, managers are expected to have answers on demand. Therefore, when a manager must reach out, a trusting relationship is preferred despite the apparent opportunity cost. Managers prefer to seek out individuals they know, like or trust more often than individuals who are the foremost subject matter experts.

Maureen L. McKenzie. "Managers Look to the Social Network To Seek Information." Information Research, 10 #2, January, 2005, http://informationr.net/ir/10-2/paper216.html

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Today, librarians have the power to make the merger of information and communications technology work for people in ways that are humane and enriching. Teenagers are our partners in this endeavor. They are the innovators whose imaginations we must value. We will not succeed without their vision and energy, and they will not become library users without our skill and passion.

Frances Jacobson Harris. I Found It on the Internet: Coming of Age Online. ALA 2005.

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I used to recommend a terrific book on resumes that warned students that the words they use create an image of the person who wrote them. It was called Does Your Resume Wear Blue Jeans? My question for librarians: Do your press releases wear a bun and sensible shoes?

Marylaine Block, in an e-mail to Tia Dobi, April 6, 2005. (OK, it's not humble to quote myself, but hey, it's a good line.)

******


Another information provider referred to the advantage working with the library brings to their organization: “I think that one of the benefits of partnering with the library is that the library’s constituency is everyone. No one is left out. The library represents all points of view. It’s content neutral. All IPs want to appeal to the entire general-public, and being connected with the library makes this possible.”

"How Community Organizations Benefit from Community Information." http://www.si.umich.edu/helpseek/BestPractices/IP_Benefits.html

******


An effective strategy to counter invisibility is to be seen. I would love to see waves of librarians out and about, speaking at schools, at community events, in churches, at city meetings, and anywhere we can find a forum.

Myra Michele Brown. "Can I Have Your Autograph?" American Libraries, November, 2004.

******


Before we leave the library world, we recollect our long-held belief that a library, and the library profession, find their analogy in our cat. The brain of the cat directs him to go out and find a mouse; this is Administration. He perceives, by sight, sound, and smell, the mouse: this is Collection Development. He catches the mouse: this is Acquisitions. He digests the mouse: this is Cataloging and Serials. He comes in and tells us about the mouse: this is Reference. He curls up in a ball and enjoys the mouse: this is Circulation. Finally, later on, he produces, for the out-of-doors, an Annual Report, which no one wants to see. So he buries it. However, he loves, and expects, regular supplies of goodies, and adores being brushed and cuddled and told how beautiful he is.

Noel Peattie, Sipapu, V.23, N.2, 1993, p.12.

******


With no shelf space to pay for and, in the case of purely digital services like iTunes, no manufacturing costs and hardly any distribution fees, a miss sold is just another sale, with the same margins as a hit. A hit and a miss are on equal economic footing, both just entries in a database called up on demand, both equally worthy of being carried. Suddenly, popularity no longer has a monopoly on profitability.

Chris Anderson. "The Long Tail." Wired, October, 2004. http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.10/tail.html

******


Anne Lipow, a great librarian, innovator, educator, and publisher, often said that the user is not remote from the librarian, the librarian is remote from the user. This is true for all information communities. Our users (readers, patrons) are right there, where they should be; we are the ones who need to close the distance.

Karen Schneider. Pensees du Webcred. Free Range Librarian, January 24, 2005, http://freerangelibrarian.com/archives/012405/ pensees_du_webcred.php

******


One of the freshmen in my Dante seminar just came to me, agog. I find that agogness is in increasingly short supply these days, but this man was certifiably agog — and with good reason. He had just had his first encounter with, as he put it, "a real librarian." She — for this real librarian, perhaps unlike the ersatz ones he had been dealing with all this time, happened to be female — she had, rather like Beatrice herself, shown him a new heaven and a new earth. He was loaded with books, bibliographies, and JSTOR printouts. Though it pains me to admit it, he appeared to have learned more about his subject in that hour than he had in the previous thirty-six hours of heavy rap directed by a famous medievalist. Education no doubt can be suggested in the classroom; but education happens in the library.

John V. Fleming. Libraries, the Princeton campus's unknown repository of sexiness. Daily Princetonian, January 17, 2005. http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/archives/2005/
01/17/opinion/11826.shtml


******


One of the biggest challenges facing librarianship is relevance... We struggle to remain relevant because we are a hidden profession.

Myra Michele Brown. "Can I Have Your Autograph?" American Libraries, November, 2004.

******


"If there is a heaven, I don't believe it's going to be like that at all...I don't want a mansion or a palace, Della. I want a schoolroom, filled with little children, with readers and crayons and paints and chalk. Little children, all big-eyed and eager to learn. And I'd want a big library. The biggest library you've ever seen. One that's opened all the time, not just half days. That's what I hope heaven's like."

Maudie Ferguson speaking, in Cassandra King's Making Waves. Hyperion, 2004.

******


I’m working on an interface directly to the human mind,
So I can capture concepts that have not yet even been defined;
In fact, in finding information, most utilitarian,
I am the very model of computerized librarian.

Lyrics by Diane M. O’Keefe, M.S.L.S. and Janet T. O’Keefe, M.L.S. Based on the song "I Am The Very Model of a Modern Major-General" from Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance.

******


Librarians should be transparent to the people we serve. The librarians are guides who assist people locate the information. We are not hired to be advisors, counselors, or confidants. Rather, we are guides to the vast array of growing information in the world. While librarians may have deep personal feelings or opinions about some subjects, as professionals it is our obligation to refrain from volunteering or interjecting personal opinions. That is one reason that you'll find librarians providing citations (or sources) for the information we provide.

Natrona County Public Library System. Invisible Librarians? http://www-wsl.state.wy.us/natrona/CJ/52.html

******


When people talk about mixed-use developments, generally they mean mixing stores or offices in with housing. But that’s not the only way building types can be mixed. Take the new library going up in St. Paul, part of a development with 98 units of affordable rental housing, a first for the Midwest. (There are several library and housing developments on the West Coast.) Local leaders are excited about the Rondo Community Outreach Library and its housing. “Here was a place where the city could use a major intersection to build a library to help spur and achieve a larger development,” Mayor Randy Kelly said at the groundbreaking ceremony. But city leaders are also excited because of what the development will replace: This stretch of University Avenue was once a seedy porn district. “This is about more than just a library,” said one former city council member who was at the groundbreaking. “This is about a rebirth of a troubled community spot."

"I’m Going Downstairs. Anybody Need a Book?" Otis White's Urban Notebook, Sept. 21, 2004. http://www.civic-strategies.com/resources/metros/
minneapolis-st._paul.htm


******


“Real news,” said Richard Reeves “is the news you and I need to keep our freedoms.” I am reminded of that line from the news photographer in Tom Stoppard’s play Night and Day : “People do terrible things to each other, but its worse in places where everybody is kept in the dark.”

I have become a nuisance on this issue—if not a fanatic—because I grew up in the South, where, for so long, truthtellers were driven from the pulpit, the classroom and the newsroom; it took a bloody civil war to drive home the truth of slavery, and still it took another hundred of years of cruel segregation and oppression before the people freed by that war finally achieved equal rights under the law. Not only did I grow up in the South, which had paid such a high price for denial, but I served in the Johnson White House during the early escalation of the Vietnam War. We circled the wagons and grew intolerant of news that did not confirm to the official view of reality, with tragic consequences for America and Vietnam. Few days pass now that I do not remind myself that the greatest moments in the history of the press came not when journalists made common cause with the state, but when they stood fearlessly independent of it.

Bill Moyers. "Journalism Under Fire." A speech to the Society of Professional Journalists, September 11, 2004. http://www.tompaine.com/articles/journalism_under_fire.php [He could equally have mentioned librarians serving the same cause, especially the documents librarians who maintain our access to the records of our government at work.]

******


We're in the business of giving away knowledge. For free. Come in, please come in, and take some knowledge for free, no limit, keep going, gorge on it if you want, no, it's not a trick, a come on, a free sample and then we'll bill you later, or we'll paper your head with banners and pop-ups. Librarians don't have a lot of status, and we don't make a lot of money, more than poets, but not so much, say, as your more successful panhandlers, so our ideals are important to us and the love of books and the love of knowledge and the love of truth and free information and letting people discover things for themselves...

Larry Beinhart. The Librarian. Nation Books, 2004.

******


The verifier method boils down to seven steps: 1) amass knowledge of a discipline through interviews and reading; 2) determine whether critical expertise has yet to be applied in the field; 3) look for bias and mistakenly held assumptions in the research; 4) analyze jargon to uncover differing definitions of key terms; 5) check for classic mistakes using human-error tools; 6) follow the errors as they ripple through underlying assumptions; 7) suggest new avenues for research that emerge from steps one through six."

Joseph D'Agnese. "Scientific Method Man." Wired, September, 2004, http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.09/rugg.html?
tw=wn_tophead_6
, an article about Gordon Rugg, the man who figured out that the Voynich Manuscript was a hoax.

******


Reading to kids is to ordinary reading what jazz is to a string quartet.

Sean Wilentz. Reader's Quotation Book

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The web has enabled many new voices in our democracy – and globally – to be heard: advocacy groups, artists, individuals, non-profit organizations. Just about anyone can speak online, and often with an impact greater than in the days when orators had to climb on soap box in a park... If we’re not vigilant the wide-open spaces of the Internet could be transformed into a system in which a handful of companies use their control over high-speed access to ensure they remain at the top of the digital heap in the broadband era at the expense of the democratic potential of this amazing technology. So we must fight to make sure the Internet remains open to all as the present-day analogue of that many-tongued world of small newspapers so admired by de Tocqueville. Bill Moyers. "Our Democracy Is in Danger of Being Paralyzed." Keynote Address to the National Conference on Media Reform. http://truthout.org/docs_03/111403E.shtml

******


What the brain really needed was space without volume. So it took a radical step and did something unparalleled in the history of life on earth. It began storing information and memories outside itself, on stone, papyrus, paper, computer chips and film. This astonishing feat is so familiar a part of our lives that we don't think much about it. But it was an amazing and rather strange solution to what was essentially a packing problem: just store your essentials elsewhere and avoid cluttering up the cave..."Are you out of your mind?" we sometimes demand. The answer is, yes, we are all out of our minds, which we left long ago when our brain needed more room to do its dance. Or rather, out of our brain. A born remodeler, it made as many additions as building codes allowed, then designed two kinds of storage bins. Information could be put into things like books, that felt good in the hand, and also onto invisible things like airwaves and Intnernets.

Diane Ackerman. An Alchemy of Mind. Scribner, 2004.

******


I know that your education, the tools you have available, and most of all, your determination and enthusiasm constitute a formidable counter-force to the walls that are being built around creativity and discourse. I count on you to get out there and create. You can – you MUST -- innovate faster than your ability to innovate can be enclosed by laws, regulations, and technological fences.

Smart Mobs: to the class of 2004: Commencement address by Howard Rheingold. http://www.smartmobs.com/archives/003327.html

******


The mainstream has the potential to self-pollinate to the point of monoculture. Maintenance of intellectual diversity is as crucial to our survival and happiness as that of genetic and ecological diversity.

Cheryl Zobel. "Zines in Public Libraries." Counterpoise 3 no. 2 (April, 1999), p. 5.

******


And when the day is over I go home at 5:03
and I give thanks to God and then to Andrew Carnegie
and the US Constitution and Orwell, Poe and Twain
and I'll return at 8 AM to open up again

I'm a librarian, I'm a librarian
and I like it quiet so the pages can be heard
I'm a librarian, I'm a librarian
and I do it for the love of the word

Jonathan Rundman. "Librarian." from his wonderful album, Public Library

******


... sites should have a strong About Us section, because users often wonder who's behind a Web-based service, how it's funded, and whether it's credible. If you order from an e-commerce site, can you trust the company to ship the package? Will they take it back if it arrives in poor condition? If you register on a site, are they going to sell your personal information to anyone who can pay, and thus expose you to endless spam about everything from transaction-related products to offensive porn?

Trust and credibility are major issues on the Web, where even the biggest company exists only as a few words and pictures inside a browser window. The most deceitful and unethical company can look as good as a company with a long history of community involvement and honest customer relationships. Explaining who you are and where you come from does matter...

"About Us" -- Presenting Information About an Organization on Its Website." Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox, October 27, 2003, http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20031027.html

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After all, libraries are a critical component in the quality-of-life equation. Vibrant libraries make for vibrant communities, and, in turn, help to attract and retain upwardly mobile families and the businesses that rely on them. If the state’s local libraries are allowed to close or crumble, that will be one more strike against a state already beleaguered by a brain-drain problem.

"Vibrant libraries make for vibrant communities." editorial, The Daily Item [Susquehanna Valley, PA], July 20, 2004. http://www.dailyitem.com/archive/2004/0720/edit/edit.htm

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You may have noticed that Web classification has the feel of a universe sorted by bulldozers and the Shopping Channel. Writers searching the Web for deep background often face two jobs: first, to organize the chaos of thousands of vastly uneven and questionable citations; then, to do the research. At the library, the organization part has been done, carried out by skilled, user-oriented minds, not "spider bots," those robot-like programs that search the Web for data.

Arthur Plotnik. "Who Loves You Like the Library?" The Writer, November, 2003

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As I've said many times: the future is already here; it's just not very evenly distributed.

William Gibson, "The Science in Science Fiction." Talk of the Nation, National Public Radio, 30 November 1999. http://discover.npr.org/features/
feature.jhtml?wfId=1067220


******


Curiosity sends us out
To a world both larger and smaller
Than what we know and believe in
With a passion for finding an answer
Or at least understanding our questions.

That road is paved with librarians,
Bushwhackers, scouts with string
Through the labyrinths of information,
Helpers who disappear the moment
You reach your destination.

Excerpted from Julia Alvarez's poem, "Why I Am in Love with Librarians."

******


I have asked Mr Bernstein,
who is an excellent blesser
to bless you all and say
that in a country where Illiteracy is on the rise
and the economy is sinking low
and Chastity is out the window
it is comforting to know
that though the frost is on the pumpkin
and civilization is on the skids
you guys are ferociously working underground
smuggling books into the hands of kids.

Theodor Geisel. "A Rather Short Epic Poem (size 6 and 7/8)," delivered by his friend Robert Bernstein at the American Booksellers Association meeting in 1988.

******


All this "new" thinking by the council is based on two assumptions - both faulty. The first is that the Internet makes libraries as physical spaces obsolete. Forget for a moment that Internet access is hardly universal and tends to bypass the poor and elderly. Look instead at studies that show increased library visits and increased circulation of materials over the past five years. And Tacomans use their libraries more than most. A recent statistical analysis of the nation's libraries by Thomas Hennen placed Tacoma in the 89th percentile in library visits per capita and the 87th percentile in circulation per capita.

The second faulty concept is that libraries are simply "storehouses of knowledge," as Phelps put it. They are that, for sure, but much more.

Let's think inside the box for a moment. Because it's inside those brick-and-mortar boxes where community lives. Tacoma's 10 libraries are the living rooms of 10 neighborhoods. They are places where latchkey kids can feel safe in the afternoons, where community groups have meetings, where seniors go to read papers and stay current, where people without internet access at home go online, where parents give children the gift of reading.

Peter Callaghan. "Councilman's Plan To Cut Libraries Is Far from Courageous." The News Tribune, Tacoma, WA, October 1, 2002. http://www.tribnet.com/news/local/story/1872253p-1986445c.html

*****


The three most beautiful words in English, French said, are not "I love you" but "to be continued." His talk was an argument for the power of the of the slowly unfolding story -- the wait, the suspense (though I don't think he ever used the word cliffhanger). The world in general, and the newsroom in particular, are like his father -- let's get to the point, cut to the chase, what's the bottom line? But the faster life gets, French said, the more powerful it is when a writer or director makes you wait to see what happens next.

Tom Lenehan. "What Happens Next? Tom French on the Power of Unfolding Narrative." Poynter Online, Report on the Nieman Narrative Journalism Conference, December 1, 2001, http://legacy.poynter.org/nww/nieman/french.htm

*****


We aren't passengers on Spaceship Earth, we're the crew. We aren't residents on this planet, we're citizens. The difference in both cases is responsibility.

Rusty Schweickart, Apollo 9 astronaut.

*****


A cartoon cannot say "on the other hand," and it cannot be defended with logic. It is a frontal assault, a slam dunk, a cluster bomb. Journalism is about fairness, objectivity, factuality; cartoons use unfairness, subjectivity, and the distortion of facts to get at truths that are greater than the sum of the facts. Good cartoonists are also the point men for the First Amendment, testing the boundaries of free speech. If they are doing their job, their hate mail runneth over.

Doug Marlette. In Your Face: a Cartoonist at Work. Houghton-Mifflin, 1991.

*****


I received the fundamentals of my education in school, but that was not enough. My real education, the superstructure, the details, the true architecture, I got out of the public library. For an impoverished child whose family could not afford to buy books, the library was the open door to wonder and achievement, and I can never be sufficiently grateful that I had the wit to charge through that door and make the most of it.

Now, when I read constantly about the way in which library funds are being cut and cut, I can only think that the door is closing and that American society has found one more way to destroy itself.

Isaac Asimov in his 1994 autobiography, I, Asimov.

*****


I can hear the library humming in the night,
a choir of authors murmuring inside their books
along the unlit alphabetical shelves,
Giovani Pontano next to Pope, Dumas next to his son,
each one stitched into his own private coat,
together forming a low gigantic chord of language.

Billy Collins. "Books." In The Apple That Astonished Paris. (And if you only read one book of poetry this year, or this decade, I recommend this be the one.)

******


[T]he new neighborhood library functions as a kind of community center, a place where people get to know one another, where communities find themselves. The book discussions, readings and classes, the homework help after school, the nods and hellos people exchange when they see each other at the library for the second or fifth or twentieth time, the librarians greeting people by name, and even the artwork that reflects the talents and interests of the neighborhood all contribute to the connections that bind people in community. Death-of-the-library scenarios define libraries as information repositories. If they were no more than that, then their eventual displacement by more convenient electronic repositories would make perfect sense. But the library is a gathering place, too, like an old town square or the corner grocer. People may go to the library looking mainly for information, but they find each other there.

Robert D. Putnam. Better Together:Restoring the American Community. 2003.

*****

"Overprotecting intellectual property is as harmful as underprotecting it," wrote Federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Alex Kozinski in a recent copyright ruling. "Culture is impossible without a rich public domain. Nothing today, likely nothing since we tamed fire, is genuinely new: Culture, like science and technology, grows by accretion, each new creator building on the works of those who came before. Overprotection stifles the very creative forces it's supposed to nurture."

Fiona Morgan. "Copywrong: Copyright laws are stifling art, but the public domain can save us." The Independent Weekly, December 3, 2003. http://www.indyweek.com/durham/2003-12-03/cover.html

*****

Creators are not publishers, and putting the power to publish directly into their hands does not make them publishers. It makes them artists with printing presses. This matters because creative people crave attention in a way publishers do not. Prior to the internet, this didn't make much difference. The expense of publishing and distributing printed material is too great for it to be given away freely and in unlimited quantities -- even vanity press books come with a price tag. Now, however, a single individual can serve an audience in the hundreds of thousands, as a hobby, with nary a publisher in sight.

This disrupts the old equation of "fame and fortune." For an author to be famous, many people had to have read, and therefore paid for, his or her books. Fortune was a side-effect of attaining fame. Now, with the power to publish directly in their hands, many creative people face a dilemma they've never had before: fame vs fortune.

Clay Shirky. "Fame vs. Fortune: Micropayments and Free Content." http://shirky.com/writings/fame_vs_fortune.html

*****

The last twenty years were about technology. The next twenty years are about policy. It's about realizing that all the really hard problems -- free expression, copyright, due process, social networking -- may have technical dimensions, but they aren't technical problems. The next twenty years are about using our technology to affirm, deny and rewrite our social contracts: all the grandiose visions of e-democracy, universal access to human knowledge and (God help us all) the Semantic Web, are dependent on changes in the law, in the policy, in the sticky, non-quantifiable elements of the world. We can't solve them with technology: the best we can hope for is to use technology to enable the human interaction that will solve them.

Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing, December 22, 2003 http://boingboing.net/2003_12_01_archive.html
#107215324306229904

*****

Overlook is the main web search problem. Today the information that a user overlooks is picked unknowingly and indiscriminately, for example by ignoring all search results beyond the 10th. Instead we should adopt tools that empower people to ignore information more knowingly."

"Needed: a More Selective Ignorance." http://vivisimo.com/docs/overlook.pdf

*****

Today every searcher, be they expert or part-time, is expected to produce results at high speed with a high degree of accuracy. I believe that part of the role of the information professional is to ask this pertinent question: "Do you want an incorrect answer quickly or a correct one more slowly?" This is not a Luddite argument against technology—it is an argument for quality, in the full meaning of the word. There will be times when we need an answer, any answer, and serve our user communities best by providing an adequate response in a timely fashion. But equally, there will be times when important commercial consequences hang upon information provision, when we may serve our users better by maintaining professional standards and a rigorous approach to information retrieval. If this means that we have to ask them to wait while we check before delivering an answer, then so be it.

Stephen Adams. Information Quality, Liability, and Corrections." Information Today, Sept. 03, http://www.infotoday.com/online/sep03/adams.shtml

*****

The Web is cool, but the library is magic. Where else can the spirit of generations of writers stir your soul? So many writers talk about libraries setting them on their magical paths, it's almost a groaner. But we know it's true. Wander through the stacks and you can feel the dreams, the unique worlds bubbling within each volume. The magic enters you as if by osmosis. On the Web, you may feel clever, lucky and driven to download--but rarely inspired to dream and to write.

Arthur Plotnik. "Who Loves You Like the Library?" The Writer, November, 2003

*****

Stories, over the centuries, have been the most important way of keeping our collective wisdom. They were and still are a sort of universal brain where we can retrieve what we have forgotten and what we still do not know. If you will allow me to use such a metaphor, a library is the best possible imitation, by human beings, of a divine mind, where the whole universe is viewed and understood at the same time. A person able to store in his or her mind the information provided by a great library would emulate in some way the mind of God. In other words, we have invented libraries because we know that we do not have divine powers, but we try to do our best to imitate them.

Umberto Eco. Vegetal and Mineral Memory: the Future of Books." lecture at the newly opened Bibliotheca Alexandrina. http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2003/665/bo3.htm

*****

Anyway, here's a story from my childhood, which I tell every year at this time: My father warned about the TV Monsters. These creepy creatures lurked in a dark forest, waiting to catch and chew up an unwary kid. But there was a way to get safely through those sinister woods. The TV Monsters couldn't hurt you if you held a book in front of your face.

You know what? It still works.

"Give the Gift of Reading." Dan Gillmor's eJournal, December 3, 2003 http://weblog.siliconvalley.com/column/dangillmor/ archives/001552.shtml#001552

*****

Limiting searches to free online sources can be wishful thinking that undermines the adequacy of a search. But having said that, let me also add that the expectation by the rising generation of researchers that full-text journal articles ought to be free and online is one of the greatest assets of the FOS [free online scholarship] movement. As Thomas Kuhn argued, doddering paradigms tend to topple not because someone produced sufficient evidence or a decisive experiment, but because the diehards died off and a new generation took their place. I welcome evidence that young researchers look first in free online sources. They should. That's by far the most convenient place to look. Our job is to put more information in that basket, not persuade researchers to start with less convenient sources. Students should understand that free online sources are not yet adequate in most fields. But the rest of us should understand that the best remedy is to make them adequate.)

Peter Suber, FOS News [now Open Access News], January 23, 2003 http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/fosblog.html

*****

Google is beginning to have a subtle, but noticeable effect on research. More and more scholarly publications are putting up their issues in PDF format, which Google indexes as though they were traditional Web pages. But almost no one is publishing entire books online in PDF form. So, when you're doing research online, Google is implicitly pushing you toward information stored in articles and away from information stored in books. Assuming this practice continues, and assuming that Google continues to grow in influence, we may find ourselves in a world where, if you want to get an idea into circulation, you're better off publishing a PDF file on the Web than landing a book deal.

Steven Johnson. "Digging for Googleholes." Slate, July 16, 2003, http://slate.msn.com/id/2085668/

*****

Journalism traditionally assumes that democracy is what we have, information is what we seek. Whereas in the weblog world, information is what we have — it’s all around us — and democracy is what we seek.

Jay Rosen. PressThink: What's Radical about the Weblog Form in Journalism? http://journalism.nyu.edu/pubzone/weblogs/pressthink/
2003/10/16/radical_ten.html

*****

The problem everyone has is that you never know what will be treasured later. When we look at old magazines, the ads are far more fascinating and informative than the articles. The U.S. Weather Service receives considerable income from selling old weather reports. To whom? To lawyers who want to know if it was raining on the night in question.

Stewart Brand. The Clock of the Long Now

*****

The simple printed book is much more conducive to promoting thinking than the sophisticated Web. If a book does not provide all the information that one needs, some of the information has to be deduced and some of it has to be imagined. When people do not get answers to their questions by reading one book, they have to read a second or third book to find the answers. The book is also a slow medium. By the time a person buys, borrows or finds another book that has the answer to a question, he or she also has had the time to think about it more thoroughly and perhaps even refine the question. The time spent in thought will in many instances enable a person to generate an answer to the question that aroused his or her curiosity in the first place.

From Thinkers to Clickers: The World Wide Web and the Transformation of the Essence of Being Human By M.O. Thirunarayanan. Ubiquity, May 13-19, 2003 http://www.acm.org/ubiquity/views/m_thirunarayanan_8.html

*****

These days, I get fewer blank stares when I talk about library school than I did 8 years ago, but that doesn't mean people really "get" the reference thing. I explain it to my friends like this: This is a question, but not a reference question: "Do you guys have any information on caves?" And this is a reference question: "I am trying to find information on those sightless fish that live in caves. I would like a book for my 10th graders to read." It's the librarian's job to turn the first type of question into the second. The fact that we as librarians will also tell you what time it is or where the bathroom is does not mean that we're not doing some serious question alchemy to help you find most things. The best reference interactions are ones in which the patrons find what they want and are not even aware that the librarians have been giving them reference interviews the entire time.

Jessamyn West. "The Librarian Is In and Online." Computers in Libraries, October, 2003. http://www.infotoday.com/cilmag/oct03/west.shtml

*****

[Re John Ashcroft's aspersions on librarians]

Let us suppose for a moment that the members of the American Library Association have sincere concerns about privacy. Suppose they are worried that the monitoring of reading habits might be the first step toward prosecuting thought crimes. Maybe they're wrong, but is it the best tactic to make fun of them?

I mean, John, dude, these are librarians here. They are underpaid guardians of literacy. They're trying on a day-to-day basis to leave no child behind. You really want to call them "hysterics"?

Do you perhaps believe that everyone who disagrees with you is mentally unbalanced? Doesn't that make you just a little bit scary?

Jon Carroll. "The Charm Offensive Gets Offensive." San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 25, 2003,
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/
chronicle/archive/2003/09/25/DD130119.DTL

*****

Information that seekers seem to think they find serendipitously actually has an organized, purposeful structure created by professionals who use a variety of standards, systems and rules meant to bring order out of chaos.

Suzanne Pilsk, "Organizing Corporate Knowledge," Information Outlook, April, 2002. Quoted in Revolting Librarians Redux.

*****

Accept that change is constant, and constant learning is the only reasonable response. Gone are the days (if they ever existed) when everything you need to know about being a librarian could be learned in library school. Learn to thrive on change. Anticipate it, smell it out, and chase after it. If you do this well enough, instead of being the victim of change, you will be its agent. And you will be able to mold change to serve your public better

Roy Tennant, "Strategies for Keeping Current, Library Journal, September 15, 2003, http://libraryjournal.reviewsnews.com/index.asp?layout=article
&articleid=CA320878

*****

No matter what you do, libraries are going to have to fight for their very existence. That means you are going to need your most valuable asset on your side: library users. Your communities will have to fight for you and with you. If that's going to happen, your users have to know in their bones that there is no comparison between a chain of book superstores, or an Internet café, and a genuine community library. They have to feel your "public-ness" - which is about much more than whether or not your funding comes from the state and whether your services are free. It's about that ephemeral quality that gives a community a sense of collective ownership over a space. You know what it takes much better than I: An ongoing, never-ending conversation between the library and the community it serves.

Naomi Klein. "Librarianship as a Revolutionary Choice." Address to the American Library Association, June 24, 2003, as reprinted on Library Juice, http://www.libr.org/Juice/issues/vol6/LJ_6.16.html

*****

But here’s the problem: things aren’t about what they’re about. "Aboutness" is also contextual and ambiguous. For example, if my blog entry on the JFK assassination links to the 1962 Sears catalog from which Oswald bought his rifle, the author of that catalog will not have labeled it as being about the JFK shooting. And if a scientist publishes a paper about a new polymer, she may in passing reject some closely related compound because it’s too sticky…but that may be exactly what you’re looking for. So, for you the article is about what the author tosses away in a footnote. Not to mention that in much of the best writing, about-ness is an emergent property. So, while the author’s intentions are an important clue, aboutness is ambiguous. Systems that too easily categorize and classify based upon a univocal idea of aboutness do violence to their topic.

David Weinberger. "The Unspoken of Groups." Comments at the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference, April 2003, http://www.hyperorg.com/misc/unspokengroups.html

*****

The centralization and consolidation of libraries serves the convenience of scholars and princes alike. But great libraries are problematic in times of war, disaster or decay, for their fate becomes the fate of the literatures they contain. Much of what comes down to us from antiquity survived because it was held in small private libraries tucked away in obscure backwaters of the ancient world, where it was more likely to escape the notice of zealots as well as princes.

Matthew Battles. Library: an Unquiet History. Norton, 2003.

*****

...the existence of Googleholes suggests an important caveat to the Google-as-oracle rhetoric: Google may be the closest thing going to a vision of the "group mind," but that mind is shaped by the interests and habits of the people who create hypertext links. A group mind decides that Apple Computer is more relevant than the apples that you eat, but that group doesn't speak for everybody. We're wrong to think of Google as a pure reference source. It's closer to a collectively authored op-ed page—filled with bias, polemics, and a skewed sense of proportion—than an encyclopedia. It's still the connected world's most dazzling place to visit, a perfect condensation of the Web's wider anarchy. Just don't call it an oracle.

Steven Johnson. "Digging for Googleholes." Slate, July 16, 2003, http://slate.msn.com/id/2085668/

*****

Limiting searches to free online sources can be wishful thinking that undermines the adequacy of a search. But having said that, let me also add that the expectation by the rising generation of researchers that full-text journal articles ought to be free and online is one of the greatest assets of the FOS [free online scholarship] movement.

As Thomas Kuhn argued, doddering paradigms tend to topple not because someone produced sufficient evidence or a decisive experiment, but because the diehards died off and a new generation took their place. I welcome evidence that young researchers look first in free online sources. They should. That's by far the most convenient place to look. Our job is to put more information in that basket, not persuade researchers to start with less convenient sources. Students should understand that free online sources are not yet adequate in most fields. But the rest of us should understand that the best remedy is to make them adequate.

Peter Suber, FOS News, January 23, 2003 http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/fosblog.html.

*****

What’s in old libraries? You don’t know until you find it. But in order for that to happen, you have to preserve the old holdings and original documents. You also have to keep the library from being burnt. Until last week, the holdings of the National Library in Baghdad were part of the common inheritance of human civilization. We know some of what was lost. We’ll never know all of it.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden. From Making Light, April 21, 2003. http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/2003_04.html#002590

*****

A law that prohibits reading without official consent, like a law that prohibits speaking without official consent, constitutes a dramatic departure from our national heritage and constitutional tradition.

Justice John Paul Stevens, in his dissent to the CIPA ruling.

*****

What we need is not indiscriminate warehousing of ephemeral Web sites, but selective, intelligent, targeted collection development — exactly what librarians have always done and, by and large, done well in service to their local communities. In clear distinction to the prevailing dynamics of the Internet — "Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control," to borrow a documentary film title — we need to be deliberate about what we gather, control carefully what we do gather, and even more deliberate about discarding information.

"What Is a Library Anymore, Anyway?" Michael A. Keller, Victoria A. Reich and Andrew C. Herkovic. First Monday, May, 2003 http://www.firstmonday.dk/issues/issue8_5/keller/index.html

*****

"Dangling that money in front of (librarians) in return for censoring what their adult patrons can access is obscene... These politicians and justices should be ashamed of themselves for forcing a public institution that serves every member of its community to remove valuable information from their grasp. It's literally removing cornerstones of democracy when Illinois library users can't access Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin's sites because of a censorship filter.

Jenny Levine, as quoted by Mark Glaser in "Justices Put Access to Online Information on the Wrong Hands," Online Journalism Review, June 26, 2003 http://www.ojr.org/ojr/glaser/1056661940.php

*****

There is something unfortunate in the widespread assumption that a project is successful only to the extent that it meets its proximate goals of creating content or metadata. I would argue for more projects that attempt to prove a model or methodology and genuinely risk failure. Failure is a very important event in the creation of knowledge.

Abby Smith. "Issues in Sustainability." First Monday, May, 2003 http://firstmonday.org/issues/issue8_5/smith/index.html

*****

Libraries, if they are truly used, require the active participation of readers to inform themselves and others. A reader is the essential and equal partner to the library, which makes the current management trend of turning readers into customers such a menace. Customers merely consume and are powerless and dependent; readers read, an activity that is both productive and cooperative. And, with luck, the motivated library reader may also become the writer and so continue in the provision of free thought.

Piers Denton. "I Was a Teen-Age Anarcho-Terrorist," in Revolting Librarians Redux, McFarland, 2003.

*****

Although American freedoms and the legal system that protects its people have been tested and even changed, Americans are still fundamentally free. Although terrorism, by definition, involves those living quietly in their communities, the country did not constrict freedom athome nearly to the degree it did during World War II, when thousands of its citizens were interned in camps.

Steven Brill. After. Simon & Schuster, 2003.

*****

Few people think about the noble role that librarians play. Our ability to collect, organize, and preserve the voices and observations of those who came before us is critical to our continued survival as a species. The story of Babel is a metaphor for what later happened at Alexandria; a reminder that we all suffer when we lose our ability to pass lessons to future generations.

It is possible for a single person to memorize the Quran and pass it on to others, but word-of-mouth is not enough to perpetuate the bulk of knowledge that enables the planet to support six billion people today. Without written language and our knowledge stewards, we would have to eliminate many billions of people, because we wouldn't be able to maintain the capabilities that support them all.

Again, the Internet has had a profound impact on our ability to preserve our collective memory, but we are still very fragile. A true librarian has vivid memories of Babel and Alexandria (when we also considered ourselves invincible), and lives the motto 'never again!'. The first lesson of history (that we must learn and never repeat) is that history lost is humanity lost.

Joshua Allen, in Better Living Through Software, January 4, 2003 http://www.netcrucible.com/blog/2003/01/04.html#a265

*****

What are they up to? It was the same question Arne had asked me about the midges. Little wonder, I suppose, that those close to me echoed the question I've spent years asking others. It isn't a very dignified question, not one an adult should ask in these times when most questions are quantity questions, ones that can be tabulated and processed by a computer. To me the astounding thing is that for the past twenty years, I've been able to talk editors into letting me go around asking that question -- What are they (he, you, she) up to? -- and make a living out of it. It seems presumptuous, and it has been so much fun that I am afraid one day a grown-up will come along and put an end to it.

Sue Hubbell. Broadsides from the Other Orders. Random House, 1993.

*****

InfoWorld: You obviously feel strongly as an artist about the need to protect fair use of content.

[John Perry] Barlow: We can't be creative without having access to other creative work. [If] I have to make sure that the rights are cleared every time I download something or somebody wants me to hear something, it's going to cut way back on what I hear, which is going to cut way back on my capacity to create. Imagine what it would be like to write a song if you'd never heard one. Fair use is essential. But it is under assault.

InfoWorld: Why is it a difficult proposition to make this case?

Barlow: It's a difficult proposition because the content industry has done a marvelously good job of getting people to believe that there's no difference between a song and a horse, whereas for me, if somebody's singing my song, I think that's great. They haven't stolen anything from me. If somebody rides off on my horse, I don't have anything and that is theft. Otherwise intelligent people think that there's no difference between stealing my horse and stealing my song.

[The content industry] has also managed to create the simplistic and basically fallacious notion that unless we strengthen dramatically the existing copyright [regime], that artists don't get paid anymore. First of all, artists aren't getting paid much now. Second, making the institutions that are robbing them blind even stronger is not going to assure [their] getting paid more. And it's going to make it very difficult for us to create economic [and] business models that would create a more interactive relationship with the audience, which would be good for us economically and good for us creatively.

John Perry Barlow, interviewed by Steve Gillmor in Infoworld, Jan. 24, 2003 http://www.infoworld.com/article/03/01/24/030124hnbarlow_1.html

*****

What's information really about? It seems to me there's something direly wrong with the ``Information Economy.'' It's not about data, it's about attention. In a few years you may be able to carry the Library of Congress around in your hip pocket. So? You're never gonna read the Library of Congress. You'll die long before you access one tenth of one percent of it.

What's important --- increasingly important --- is the process by which you figure out what to look at. This is the beginning of the real and true economics of information. Not who owns the books, who prints the books, who has the holdings. The crux here is access, not holdings. And not even access itself, but the signposts that tell you what to access --- what to pay attention to. In the Information Economy everything is plentiful --- except attention.

Bruce Sterling's 1992 speech to the Library Information Technology Association

*****

From "Top Ten Web-Design Mistakes of 2002," by Jakob Neilsen:

9. URL > 75 characters:

Long URLs break the Web's social navigation because they make it virtually impossible to email a friend a recommendation to visit a Web page. If the URL is too long to show in the browser's address field, many users won't know how to select it. If the URL breaks across multiple lines in the email, most recipients won't know how to glue the pieces back together.

The result? No viral marketing, just because your URLs are too long. Bad way to lose business.

from Alertbox, Dec. 2002, http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20021223.html

*****

The quality and self-respect of a people can be gauged -- not exclusively, but succinctly -- in their libraries. The open door of a library says we are ignorant without excuse. The boarded-up door says we are simply ignorant.

Carol Megathlin. "The quality of a community can be gauged by its libraries." Savannah Now, March 1, 2003 http://www.savannahnow.com/stories/030103/OPEDopedmegathlin.shtml

*****

The fact that time spins impossible paradoxes every time we take a look at it, we should take as a hint that something is seriously wrong with our Western thinking on this topic. We break time into moments and then try to stick them back together by stringing them like beads on a necklace. We've even built an economy around uniform moments in which hourly workers sell their time in units of an hour and white-collar workers march to the beat of their Palm computers. Deadlines, schedules, meetings, the workday itself -- all move to the ticking of time's moments. The Web, on the other hand, reminds us that the fundamental unit of time isn't a moment, it's a story, and the string that holds time together isn't the mere proximity of moments but our interest in the story.

ALSO

Yet the Web works. It grows without much maintenance. It invents at insane speeds. We can get done what we want, although usually only after clicking down some dead ends. Beyond any reasonable expectation, it works. But it works only bcause it has remained true to its founding decision: remove the controls and we'll have to put up with a lot of broken links and awful information, but in return we'll get a vibrant new world, accessible to everyone and constantly in the throes of self-invention. The Web works because it's broken.

both from David Weinberger. Small Pieces Loosely Joined. Perseus, 2002

*****

Knowledge will forever govern ignorance. And people who mean to be their own governors, must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives. A popular Government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy or perhaps both.

James Madison. Letter to W.T. Barry, Aug. 4, 1822.

*****

Most people ask and answer quantity questions now, in part because we have the tools to answer them and the tools' capabilities often drive research.

I'm glad that there are people asking those quantity questions [about wildlife], because my own questions sometimes grow out of their answers. But my questions are those of process: What does he like to eat? Who is he anyway? Does she behave differently from those over there, the ones who look like her? What limits the population? What does he do when he gets in a pickle?...Where are they when they aren't here?

Sue Hubbell. Broadsides from the Other Orders. Random HOuse, 1993.

*****

I've come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies:

1. Anything that is in the world when you're born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.

2. Anything that's invented between when you're fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.

3. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things.

Douglas Adams. The Salmon of Doubt. 2002.

*****

We are stuck with technology when what we really want is just stuff that works. How do you recognize something that is still technology? A good clue is if it comes with a manual.

Douglas Adams. The Salmon of Doubt. Harmony Books, 2002.

*****

The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.

Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980), U.S. poet. "The Speed of Darkness," part 9, lines 3-4 (1958).

*****

Cities in America have begun to look more like each other in recent years, and every place is beginning to look like every other place. Stores, buildings and streets are increasingly homogeneous, and traffic dominates our lives, even in small towns. As driving has become the main way to get around, walking has become a lost art.

Imagine another kind of city -- one in which walking has been rediscovered, and streets and sidewalks invite people to stroll, linger and socialize -- not just move on through. Imagine locally owned businesses with their own character and style...Imagine buildings that aren't interchangeable with those built by some other developer in some other town, but whose look and functins are related to their place. Imagine parks and squares that are the highlight of the city, where the community gathers for its civic, cultural and social functions. These are the types of places that come to mind when we think about a livable community.

How To Turn a Place Around. Project for Public Spaces, 2000.

*****

[Pat] Scales said she never was challenged about the books she stocked in her library and she thinks she knows why. The parents trusted her as much as the children did. She ran a parent literature program at the school called "Communicate Through Literature." Parents would read books suggested by their children; children and parents would talk about the books both had read. Scales then would lead a discussion with moms and dads about what they had learned about their kids through their particular book.

The program had benefits she couldn't have predicted. Parents discussed the different books they were reading and came to understand that while one parent might not want her daughter to read a certain book, another parent might insist on it. Participants began to understand that adolescents of any one age vary widely in maturity, background and need.

Laura Sessions Stepp, "Banned Books: a Chance for Learning." Washington Post, July 12, 2001.

*****

The search is for the just word, the happy phrase that will give expression to the thought, but somehow the thought itself is transfigured by the phrase when found.

Benjamin Cardozo. The Growth of the Law. 1924.

*****

I entered the house of strangers last week and immediately felt uneasy. It took me a few minutes to identify the source of my anxiety: There wasn't a book in sight, upstairs or down, not even in the bathroom on a stand next to the commode. Not one volume, not even the Bible, was anywhere in sight.

"Who are these people?'' I wondered. I had no way of knowing. Their books, which would have given them away, couldn't tell me anything.

I grew up around books. My mother and especially my father loved filling up shelves in room after room of our homes. Just by glancing at the shelves, one could tell that my father loved politics and history, that my mother was an anglophile of the first order. SHELVES REVEAL OWNER'S TASTES.

Bill Eichenberger, in the Columbus Dispatch Arts Section, April 14, 2002

*****

. . . screens are far from neutral. By its very design, the screen presents information that has been edited and packaged to fit. We become absorbed into the world it shows, forgetting that it is merely a frame, which limits our view. In fact, we seem less and less interested in considering what isn't shown, what may lie beyond its edges. It is tempting to believe the screen offers all we need, because it is sleeker and better than anything we have ever had before.

Laura Pappano. The Connection Gap: Why Americans Feel So Alone. Rutgers, 2001, p. 53.

*****

While electronic systems have brought inestimable advantages to the library, including the online catalogue and access to remote databases, the tasks of libraries have expanded enormously. Librarians must now stay on top of technology as well as information, and must maintain archives and provide continuous access when operating platforms and systems change every few years. Liza Chan has likened a library's struggle to select the best delivery and storage system for electronic media to a "blindfolded person shooting at a moving target."

Julia Martin. "The Archive as an Ecosystem." Journal of Electronic Publishing http://www.press.umich.edu/jep/07-03/martin.html

*****

Power point could lead us to believe that information is all there is. . . Power Point empowers the provider of simple content . . . but it risks squeezing out the provider of process -- that is to say, the rhetorician, the storyteller, the poet, the person whose thoughts cannot be arranged in the shape of an AutoContent slide.

Ian Parker. "Absolute PowerPoint." New Yorker, May 28, 2001.

*****

What keeps us library types going when the dotcoms are going bust is this: We have a business plan that has stood the test of time, a plan in which generations of librarians have believed in passionately, a plan that has inspired countless library users and city councils because of its simple elegance. What we have is a bargain with history as well as brilliantly simple historical bargain. Libraries promise to share knowledge and seek wisdom. We keep that promise, whether it is with print, what we used to call non-print, or with electronic sources. We do it at bargain prices. For this society rewards us. Not much, it's true. But we have a staying power that other less clear business plans (like NetLibrary or other dotcoms) never approached."

Thomas Hennen, librarian, author, and creator of Hennen's American Public Library Ratings (HALPR)

*****

Too often, when technology sees a drowning man, it throws him the Titanic. When will organizations recognize that it is people who make them successful, not pieces of silicon?

Before you invest in fancy content management software, make sure your people have the skills to create, edit and publish quality content. Before you invest in fancy search technology, make sure your people are trained in how to search efficiently. Before you succumb to information overload, train your people to send less emails, and to be more succinct in what they send.

This world of ours is drowning in rocket science. Throw it some common sense.

Gerry McGovern. "Information Technology: Trojan Horse of Information Overload." New Thinking, Sept. 29, 2002. http://www.gerrymcgovern.com/nt/2002/
nt_2002_09_30_trojan.htm

*****

This is the first curse of the modern librarian: tough love hurts. Still, it's a necessary pain. Too few people understand that library services aren't really free--like all government services, they're just pre-paid . And as a profession, we haven't done a good job explaining to the public that books do not magically fly onto shelves, librarians and other library employees do not work for the sheer fun of it, and Web sites do not fix their own broken links. In large part due to the very factors that make us special--particularly our strong service orientation and our keen interest in the public good--we are all too expert at "making do," and that has made us easy targets for cuts.

Karen G. Schneider. "Tough Times Call for Tough Love." Free Range Librarian, September, 2002. http://lii.org/search/file/frl0902

*****

By the end of the novel, the missing chums were missing no more, and the Hardy Boys had once again earned their names. And I was reminded again of the magical, transforming power of books, their ability to transport us beyond our puny lives and to shape the very texture of our personalities. But unlike so many other formative influences in our lives, books don't change over the years. No wrecking ball or bulldozer can demolish their place in the world. They lie waiting for us, constant, neatly arranged on the shelves, all their marvels intact, their stories and characters as supple and energetic as they were forty years ago. A voice that stirred us once, whispered dreams to our younger selves, is still there waiting, ready to whisper once again.

James W. Hall. "The Hardy Boys." In Hot Damn! St. Martin's, 2002

*****

Ensuring access implies being able to control the existence, integrity, and location of an item. If someone other than you can move, replace, alter, or remove the copy you want to provide for your users, then you cannot ensure access. The presence today of a document on the web is no guarantee of its presence tomorrow.

Dorothy Warner. "Why Do We Need To Keep This in Print? It's on the Web . . .: a Review of Electronic Archiving Issues and Problems." Progressive Librarian, Issue # 19-20, Spring 2002. http://libr.org/PL/19-20_Warner.html

*****

Antonio Panizzi was the de facto king of this intellectual empire. Panizzi had fled his native Italy in 1823, arriving in England with little English and less money and worked his way up to become perhaps the greatest librarian who has ever lived. Panizzi "applied revolutionary zeal to the Museum collections." He got money for the new building. He enforced the copyright deposit by taking publishers to court. He raised funds for new acquisitions. Behind it all was a simple goal: "I want a poor student to have the same means of indulging his learned curiosity, of following his rational pursuits, of consulting the same authorities, of fathoming the most intricate inquiry as the richest man in the kingdom, as far as books go, and I contend that the government is bound to give him the most liberal and unlimited assistance in this respect."

Cleo Paskal. "Love and passion in the Reading Room: Where novelists found plots and historians found facts." National Post, April 16, 2002

*****

While literacy has , at times, been used as a bar to exclude the illiterate from exercising power, reading and writing have generally been a form of empowerment. There are good reasons why the slaveholders in the United States made it a crime to teach slaves to read. Frederick Douglass, who went to great lengths to learn to read -- despite his master's strict prohibition -- saw it as an essential step in his eventual liberation. In fact, in very broad terms, the expansion of literacy has gone hand in hand with the enfranchisement of wider and wider spheres of society. And the sense of historical context that comes with literacy is a part of the feeling of enfranchisement; knowing where you have come from is important to forming an idea of where you want to go.

Alexander Stille. The Future of the Past. 2002

*****

The point of a library's existence is not persuasion or evangelism, but knowledge. It is irrelevant to the good library whether, as an institution, it shares or promotes your core values or mine, or the Attorney General's or Saddam Hussein's. The library is always an instrument of choice, and the choice is always yours, not your elected or designated leaders.

Robert Hughes. "Free Libraries, Free Society." American Libraries, August, 2002.

*****

In the world around us are things that we, or other human beings, have created -- things which play a similar role to intelligence but sit outside us. They are things like libraries, books, and the internet . . . The Discworld concept of L-Space -- library space -- is similar: it's all one thing. These influences, sources of not just information but of meaning, are "cultural capital." They are things that people put out into the culture which can then sit there, or even reproduce, or interact in a way that individuals can't control.

Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart, and Jack Cohen. The Science of Discworld. Ebury Press, 2000.

*****

In hard times, libraries are more important than ever. Human beings need what books give them better than any other medium. Since those ancient nights around prehistoric campfires, we have needed myth. And heroes. And moral tales. And information about the world beyond the nearest mountains or oceans.

Today, with books and movies more expensive than ever, and television entertainment in free fall to the lowest levels of stupidity, freely circulating books are an absolute necessity. They are quite simply another kind of food. We imagine, and then we live.

Pete Hamill. "Libraries Face Sad Chapter" New York Daily News, February 25, 2002

****

No one likes having their knowledge and skills and equipment depreciate, but in today's information world, that's life.

Barbara Quint. Information Today, May, 1995

*****

Once you have a sense of organization, however casual, you can . . . begin to examine the information from different vantage points, which will enable you to understand the relationship between bodies of information. Ask yourself: How can I look at this information? Can I move back from it? Can it be made to look smaller? Can I see it in context? Can I get closer to it so it is not recognizable based on my previous image of the subject? Can I look at the detail?

Whatever problems you have in life . . . can be illuminated by asking these questions. How can I pull myself out of the situation? How do I see it by changing scale? How can I look at the problem from different vantage points? How do I divide it into smaller pieces? How can I arrange and rearrange these pieces to shed new light on the problem?

Each vantage point, each mode of organization will create a new structure. And each new structure will enable you to see a different meaning, acting as a new method of classification from which the whole can be grasped and understood.

Richard Saul Wurman. Information Anxiety 2.

*****

Any fool can have an opinion; to know what one needs to know to have an opinion is wisdom; which is another way of saying that wisdom means knowing what questions to ask about knowledge.

Neil Postman. Building a Bridge to the 18th Century.

…to say that we live in an unprecedented age of information is merely to say that we have available more statements about the world than we ever had. This means, among other things, that we have available more erroneous statements than we have ever had. Has anyone been discussing the matter of how we can distinguish between what is true and what is false? Aside from schools, which are supposed to attend to the matter but largely ignore it, is there any institution or medium that is concerned with the problem of misinformation?

Neil Postman. Building a Bridge to the 18th Century.

*****

[from a column suggesting that a public library be built on the World Trade Center site] We say that our way of life was attacked on September 11. What we mean is that our words were attacked - our sauntering, freewheeling, raucus, stumbling, unbridled, unregulated, unorthodox words. All that we are in this country came out of words -- 18th century words, 19th century words -- which in turn wend their way back into a past that existed long before the first sentence of the Book of John. Every word is a new idea, and there is nothing like a new idea to counteract the stony madness of fanatics. If a man spends enough time in a library, he may actually change his mind. I have seen it happen.

When the Sterling Library was going up at Yale in the 1930s, there was a big to-do over the building because it was one of the more impressive modern edifices of its kind in the world. Some wag who had his values straight proposed posting a sign outside the entrance when the building opened that read: "This is not the library. The library is inside." The library is always inside. It may be the only monument we have to the things that can enlighten and advance us, and thus assuage at least some of the sorrow for which there are no words.

Roger Rosenblatt. "Ground Zero: Build a Monument of Words." Time, May 25, 2002. http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/
0,8599,249998,00.html

*****

The whole effect of law on human society began to change when you could write the law down, and anyone who could read could see what the law was. This didn't mean that the kings always obeyed the law, but it meant that when they disobeyed it, everyone knew what they were doing. That had a big effect on the structure of human society. One minor aspect of it is that we always appear to be nervous of people who write things down.

Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart, and Jack Cohen. The Science of Discworld. Ebury Press, 2000.

**********

The computer is one of the most powerful world-view-influencers. While we are working on it, it works on us, chipping here, smoothing there, molding our expansive minds to fit its powerful but much narrower capabilities. Because its operation is based solely on the highly abstract thinking process called logic, it amplifies this one aspect of our cognition. But it does this at the expense of other ways of thinking and knowing, such as intuition, physical contact, and the entire gamut of emotional and spiritual experience.

Lowell Monke. "The Web and the Plow." On his web site, Confronting Technology, http://www.gemair.com/~lmonke/

**********

What runs Discworld is deeper than mere magic and more powerful than pallid science. It is narrative imperative, the power of story. It plays a role similar to that substance known as phlogiston, once believed to that principle or substance within inflammable things that enabled them to burn. In the Discworld universe, then, there is narrativium. It is part of the spin of every atom, the drift of every cloud. It is what causes them to be what they are and continue to exist and take part in the ongoing story of the world.
. . .
Narrativium is powerful stuff. We have always had a drive to paint stories onto the universe. When humans first looked at the stars, which are great flaming suns an unimaginable distance away, they saw in among them giant bulls, dragons and local heroes.

This human trait doesn't affect what the rules say -- not much, anyway -- but it does determine which rules we are willing to contemplate in the first place. Moreover, the rules of the universe have to be able to produce everything that we humans observe, which introduce a kind of narrative imperative into science, too. Humans think in stories.

Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen. The Science of Discworld. Ebury Press, 2000.

**********

Whatever systems are developed to control the exchange of published work in the digital realm, we need to insist on provisions for the kind of public access that libraries have traditionally made possible. Too much is at stake to let the publishing industry undo the careful copyright balance we have all come to rely upon.

All of which brings me back to that Manila sewer grate. Just as residents there came to treat gaping holes in the street as a normal-even acceptable-condition, we could get used to a world without public libraries. But the absence of free and accessible information would leave a gaping hole in our "infostructure" and result in an impoverished world. It is a world we can-and should-resist.

Seth Shulman, "Owning the Future: Looting the Library." Technology Review, June 2001.

**********

Our tend in copyright law has been to enclose as much as we can; the consequence of this enclosure is a stifling of creativity and innovation. If the Internet teaches us anything, it is that great value comes from leaving core resources in a commons, where they're free for people to build upon as they see fit. An Innovation Commons was the essence - the core - of the Internet. We are now corrupting this core, and this corruption will in turn destroy the opportunity for creativity that the Internet built.

Lawrence Lessig. "May the Source Be With You." Wired, December, 2001.

**********

It may be objected that . . . it's the job of libraries to house material and make it accessible, not to publish it in facsimile, which is where the commercial operations rightly take their place. This may be so, but digital technology introduces subtle and major changes to the traditional model. It makes it possible for the facsimile publisher ultimately to cut out the role of the library altogether, to deal directly with the users (at terms to be dictated) because they become the holders of the material in the way that libraries used to be. Such developments may be no more than inevitable and healthy aspects of economic evolution; but librarians, before they don their turkey hats and vote for Christmas, should reflect that they are the custodians of the documentary heritage, that they sit on the stuff which researchers want, and they should perhaps be playing a more active role in steering the development of digital content.

David Pearson. Digitisation: Do We Have a Strategy? Ariadne, 30, December, 2001, http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue30/
digilib/

**********

Writers, critics, museum operators, impresarios and entrepreneurs -- all those who made a living on or around the decomposing bodies of art, literature, music and film -- pleaded the case that the Alexandrians themselves wouldn't. Citing figures correlating age and first publication, income and expectation, Hors Breen, art critic for The New York Times, declared that "artistic overload" was destroying the drive and desire of young artists everywhere. Tateo Moldini recounted his campaign in Italy to rid the churches of medieval and renaissance art "so that a new renaissance could flourish." Osiki Hade told of museums whose storerooms were larger than their galleries by a factor of ten. San Francisco talk show host Gerry Bright spoke of the despair and apathy of the young, deluged with more books, recordings and films than they could possible read, hear or see.

Terry Bisson. The Pickup Artist. A Tor Book, 2001.

**********

Consider how much of your life, your worktime and your playtime involves interacting with IP products, with software and media and information and entertainment. Now consider what it would mean to have your every move through that digital swamp tracked and recorded, all in the name of enforcing copyright. It would mean the Viacoms and the Disneys and the News Corporations of the very near future would own great volumes of information about your comings and goings, enormous databases full of your private life.

This is not a life anyone in the Western world can opt out of, remember. Choosing to avoid computers, music, television or movies brands you a crank, an eccentric. Avoiding all of them and still participating in society at large is completely out of the question.

Bret Dawson. "The Privatization of our Culture." Shift. http://shift.com/mag/10.1/html/
10.1feature001a.asp

**********

The comfort that his library time afforded him was unexpected, welcome. As the weeks passed, he became aware of how much the place, the press, the steady flow of people, the scent of glue and binding, the scent of books pleased him. At first he could not articulate what he felt about it, and then one day he realized that he felt invited into meaning there, that the world seemed large when viewed through the library's broad windows.

Kathleen Cambor. In Sunlight, in a Beautiful Garden. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2001.

**********

Some futurists assert that making text accessible at the paragraph level, with user-defined links to other paragraphs, inherently makes the text more worthwhile. Serious prose writers and serious readers will disagree. . . Order and cumulative exposition are significant to well-written linear text that seeks to impart knowledge. Paragraphs in substantial books have meaning only in context of what precedes and follows them.

Walt Crawford, Michael Gorman. Future Libraries: Dreams, Madness & Reality. ALA, 1995.

**********

The technologies behind the Internet - everything from the microprocessors in each web server to the open-ended protocols that govern the data itself - have been brilliantly engineered to handle dramatic increases in scale, but they are indifferent, if not downright hostile, to the task of creating higher-level order. There is, of course, a neurological equivalent of the Web's ratio of growth to order, but it's nothing you'd want to emulate. It's called a brain tumor.

Steven Johnson. Emergence: the Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software. Scribner, 2001.

**********

Every week we went to the library, that repository of dreams, ambitions, alternate lives, shimmering possibilities, hard and false information, history, belief, story. Every week I brought home receptacles containing hints that my life might be different, wider than my mother's.

Marge Piercy. Sleeping with Cats: a Memoir.

**********

The visionaries keep telling us that help is just around the corner in the form of intelligent agents, systems that will figure out our interests and tastes and take us unerringly to exactly the information we are looking for. But it's clear that the people who glibly describe these things haven't ever watched a flesh and blood librarian manage to extract a sense from the incoherent mumbles of the customers who present themselves at the reference desk. It's true there will be tools to make navigating the net a lot easier, but in the end users are going to have to spend a lot of time learning to meet the technology halfway . . . That's one thing the visionaries didn't realize about cyberspace: spelling counts.

Geoffrey Nunberg. The Way We Talk Now.

**********

There's nothing the least bit charming or comic about a truly failing memory. Its effects are demeaning, humiliating, horrific. Now, extrapolate. Imagine a society that doesn't care to remember, that doesn't bother to keep its collective memory sharp. That prospect is just as unpleasant. What's more, the scale of vulnerabilities grows.

Part of the reason you are so freaking important and, if you'll pardon the buzzword, heroic, Mister and Ms. NewBreed Librarian & all the Support Staff at Sea, is that you care for our memory. You keep it spry, busy, popping with new thoughts, and you work obsessively to make its components readily available - sometimes instantly - to the people who need it, whose lives it enriches. If "enriches" sounds stale, try this: Whose lives it makes tolerable, safer, funnier, more interesting, healthier, calmer, more productive, libidinous, spiritual, smarter, more amusing. Because if you think about it you'll admit that everyone who steps in your door or uses your website lives better than they would have without your efforts.

Bruce Jensen. "Keepers of the Long Memory: A Twisted Appreciation." New Breed Librarian, February, 2002 http://www.newbreedlibrarian.org/archives/
02.01.feb2002/feature.html

**********

Where do you want your audience to go? How can you get them there? Amazon.com's CEO Jeff Bezos keeps the destination in mind when he tells people that the company's mission is not to sell books but to help customers make book purchasing decisions.

Richard Saul Wurman. Information Anxiety 2.

**********

Most of all we need to preserve the absolute unpredictability and total improbability of our connected minds. That way we can keep open all the options, as we have in the past.
. . .
Joined together, the great mass of human minds around the earth seem to behave like a coherent living system. The trouble is that the flow of information is mostly one-way. We are all obsessed by the need to feed information in as fast as we can, but we lack sensing mechanisms for getting anything much back.

Lewis Thomas. Lives of a Cell

**********

To use the term "distance learning" to refer to students and a teacher sending e-mail messages to each other may have some value, but it obscures the fact that reading a book is the best example of distance learning possible, for reading not only triumphs over the limitations of space and co-presence but of time as well.

Neil Postman. Building a Bridge to the 18th Century.

**********

I think it's fair to ask how parents who feel that reading a review before driving their kids to a movie theater is too much work ever manage to pull off the greater responsibilities that parenthood entails. What amazed me during this discussion was that the parents seemed completely willing to abandon their responsibility to be informed about the culture their kids were growing up in to some anonymous watchdog.

Charles Taylor. "The Morality Police." Salon, June 11, 2001 http://salon.com/books/feature/2001/
06/11/children/index.html

**********

The irony of the Information Age is that it has given new respectability to uninformed opinion.

John Lawton, in an address to the American Association of Broadcast Journalists. 1995

**********

Computers do an odd thing with knowledge. Ask a question, and, in a blink, they immediately highlight the precise answer -- the citation, the definition. You're handed the answer with no context.

I've learned so much in the process of looking up something else -- adjacent pages in a dictionary, sidetracks in books. With the computer, context becomes an avoidable waste of time. And that means far greater loss than we first imagine.

John Lienhard. "The Metaphor of the Book." Address to the Texas Library Association Annual Conference, April, 1996 (http://www.uh.edu/engines/tlatalk.htm)

**********

Information professionals must learn to change and change now. And whatever changes you make, whatever new skills you acquire or old ones you adapt, the process of change will not end or even slow down in the foreseeable future. Whatever you learn today, you will have to re-learn tomorrow. Whatever skills you adapt today, you may have to discard tomorrow and acquire completely new ones. No rest for the wicked and no rest for the service-oriented in the New Information World Order.

Barbara Quint. The Quintessential Searcher: the Wit and Wisdom of Barbara Quint. Information Today, 2001

**********

Barlow told the gathering in Camden that as far back as 1991, he had written that the openness of cyberspace would create a great series of 'holy wars,' as local systems that would feel threatened about being embedded in a global system would push back. Many 'cultures' would find openness a significant threat. Then on September 11th, he said he had a realization -- that the 21st century would be one great struggle between open and closed systems across the planet -- systems of belief, of national organizations, of boundary conditions (both real and virtual), of the ownership of ideas, etc. And these struggles would be intensified by technology, which tends to undermine elites and move communities towards democratization.

Tom Regan. "The true battlefront of the 21st century: Open systems versus closed systems." [reporting on a speech by John Perry Barlow at the Pop!Tech 2001Convention] Christian Science Monitor, November 13, 2001, http://www.csmonitor.com/2001/
1113/p25s2-stin.html

**********

Read every day something no one else is reading. Think every day something no one else is thinking. Do every day something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to continually be part of unanimity.

Christopher Morley. Quoted in Information Anxiety 2, by Richard Saul Wurman.

**********

What makes life worthy and allows civilizations to endure are all the things that have negative financial returns under commercial rules of quick time: universities, temples, choirs, literature, museums, terraced fields, long marriages, slow walks, line dancing and art. Almost everything we hold dear is slow to develop and slow to change.

Paul Hawken. "Possibilities." In Imagine: What America Could Be in the 21st Century.

**********

Library publishers could well do what the traditional news media did when the web came along: take advantage of the possibilities it offers for interactivity and reader responses to articles in the magazine, because the new generation of web-based librarians doesn't want to just read an article or discussion, they want to contribute to it. Publishers could use their web sites for lively opinion, discussion groups, and spot surveys. By combining peer-to-peer journalism with traditional library journalism, they could smoothly transition a new generation of web-based librarians to their magazines.

If that happens, librarians could have in one package the best of both worlds—the reliability of serious and systematic research and problem-solving, from some of the most knowledgeable librarians in the business, with the immediacy, playfulness, diversity of voices, and complete interactivity of the zines and blogs.

Marylaine Block. "Communicating off the Page." Library Journal, September 15, 2001.

**********

Interactivity's key premise is that, at long last, I get to direct the action… I'm told I'll soon be able to sit in my living room and press a button routing the movie/book/CD/experience-mechanism in the direction I want it to go…

Which gets me to one of my problems with the interactive future: When I'm finally free to direct where everything goes, I'll never go anywhere I don't intend. In fact, I'll never learn anything new, just keep recycling a few of my favorite things…

Nor do I need to have a "conversation" with Thoreau in which I determine what's interesting and get appropriate text bytes in response. If it took him two years to live the book, nine years to write it, and six drafts to get it right, I can at least shut up and let him determine what's interesting.

George Felton. "A Read-Only Man in an Interactive Age." In Minutes of the Lead Pencil Club, Pushcart Press, 1996.

**********

There are many ways to approach the needle in the haystack problem:

A known needle in a known haystack
A known needle in an unknown haystack
An unknown needle in an unknown haystack
Any needle in a haystack
The sharpest needle in a haystack
Most of the sharpest needles in a haystack
All the needles in a haystack
Affirmation of no needles in a haystack
Things like needles in any haystack
Let me know whenever a new needle shows up
Where are the haystacks?
Needles, haystacks -- whatever

Matthew Koll. "Major Trends and Issues in the Information Industry." http://www.asidic.org/techsumf99.html

**********

The not so deadly silence
of a literary sanctuary
The last place on earth
for a little sanity
The last place on earth
Where my world is calm . . .

Excerpted from Leah Golubchick's poem "Library," which appeared in NYPL's teen poetry magazine, Word Smiths (http://www2.nypl.org/home/branch/teen/WordSmiths-Current.cfm

**********

Perfect valor is to do unwitnessed what we should be capable of doing before all the world. Duc de la Rochefoucauld.

**********

Reporters are faced with the daily choice of painstakingly researching stories or writing whatever people tell them. Both approaches pay the same.

Scott Adams. The Dilbert Principle.

**********

Nor do I do much library research these days, though once I haunted the stacks. Libraries have changed. They are no longer quiet, but rather noisy places where people gather to exchange murder mysteries. In bad weather homeless people exuding pungent odors doze at the reading tables. One stands in line to use computers, not a few down for the count, most with smeared and filthy screens, runnng on creaky software.

I mourn the loss of the old card catalogs, not because I'm a luddite, but because the oaken trays of yesteryear offered the researcher an element of random utility and felicitious surprise through encounters with adjacent cards, information by chance that is different in kind from the computer's ramified but rigid order.

Annie Proulx. "Inspiration? Head Down the Back Road and Stop for the Yard Sales. In Writers on Writing: Collected Essays from the New York Times.

**********

The closest you will ever come in this life to an orderly universe is a good library.

Ashleigh Brilliant

**********

Letter to the editor by Thomas M. Bodenberg. American Demographics, August 2001.

I must bring to your attention how data can be misused and give erroneous impressions. Case in point: the table on page 64 in the June 2001 issue, which is entitled "Sugar Daddies." True, West Concord, Mass. Has a high per capita income - one of the highest in the nation. It also has one of the highest number of single men in Massachusetts. Why? On the outskirts of West Concord is a medium-to-maximum security prison!

So, when one naively juxtaposes these data points, one can be led to assume that there are plenty of single, wealthy men there when that isn't the case. . . Think before arriving to conclusions indicated by data crunching.

**********

From time to time, I have exasperated my beloved friends in the arts community by refusing to call various attempts by the government to control the content of the things it funds "censorship." I think it's unwise; I think it hurts the free exchange of ideas; I think it reveals narrow-mindedness and stupidity.

But, dear friends, you made a deal with the devil. You knew they were narrow-minded and stupid when you took their money. . . .

There is a solution: Don't take the money.

Jon Carroll. "Shut up and take this pill." San Francisco Chronicle, July 24, 2001. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/
chronicle/archive/2001/07/24/DD206798.DTL

**********

These are truly wondrous times, but the eternal struggle between private greed and social need continues unabated. The commodification of information is the contested terrain that we face in this new millennium. Almost all of the stock photographs in the world are now owned by two companies, Corbis and Getty One. Consumer data is routinely bought and sold with little regard for personal privacy. Even genetic codes, the mother of all life data, are now corporate currency. These are but a few examples of the ethical challenges we will have to deal with in the years to come. Whose information? Managed for what purpose? These are the questions we must not be afraid to ask. Information management can be an honorable and proud profession. It is up to all of us here to make it so.

Lincoln Cushing, graduation speech, School of Information Management and Systems, University of California at Berkeley, May 12,2001 (downloadable in pdf from http://www.sims.berkeley.edu/~lcush/personal.htm)

**********

Libraries are the real birthing places of the universe for me. I lived in my hometown library more than I did at home. I loved it at night, prowling the stacks on my fat panther feet. All of that went into Something Wicked . . .

Ray Bradbury, quoted by Stephen King in Danse Macabre.

**********

Your uppick of the LATimes story citing editorial librarians standing fast -- in a courteous and sensible way -- against senior directives to trash stored freelance stories confirms my longheld belief that librarians remain as they have been for millennia, the real heroes of the information industry.

Through the latter half of the Nineties, many senior, skilled librarians lost their jobs to make way for less-experienced entries who persuaded employers that they knew everything about the Internet, and in the information industry, the Internet was All. Both claims were usually fictional, and the latter once always was.

We now see librarians again standing up for the information industry -- including journalists, both freelance and fully employed -- while rather vindictive senior publishing executives have been running around like chickens with their heads cut off. Chicken Littles.

This suggests that librarians are wiser than senior publishing executives -- no surprise in that -- and reminds us all of how much tougher journalism would be without librarians' expertise. It's kind of embarrassing that the librarians seem to be pretty much alone in resisting the wider excesses of the newspaper trade post-Tasini.

Letter from Paul Kunino Lynch to Jim Romanesko's Media News http://www.poynter.org/medianews/letters.htm

**********

And yet I still think [book] reviews are of some importance, aside from occasionally being entertaining in themselves. In the first place, they can be effective examples of what Northrop Frye described as "a form of consumer's research." In an industry where style, advertising and promotion are increasingly being called upon to move product, reviews remind us that substance counts. Reviewers help to keep it real.

But more than this, a review is a testament to the idea that books matter as something more than mere consumer products. Reviews represent the exercise of a critical faculty on what we read. I should emphasize that this isn't any particular critical faculty I'm referring to, my own or that of a "centre of authority," but simply the idea that we all should read critically.

There is nothing the book industry - and, I suspect, many authors - would like more than to get rid of reviews entirely. We are not effective advertising. Our focus on content rather than image makes us hopelessly out of step with the times. . . In the twenty-first century we may well become an endangered species - a few of us kept alive in captivity to serve as quote whores, but otherwise extinct in our native habitat of books.

"A Defence of Reviewing" by Alex Good http://www.goodreports.net/defence.htm

**********

And I can't help but think of the consequences of the obsolescence of libraries for the leaders of tomorrow. With library research, finding the information you need for a project determines the success of the project; searches can be exhausting and invigorating. The search itself often results in unexpected discoveries that the wise researcher files away for future projects. And, the search as often invalidates a point of view as it validates. In poring over vast quantities of information, you are more likely to find alternative points of view that enhance your own picture of the true nature of things.

James Mathewson. "The Mighty Myron: An ode to the libraries of yesterday." Computer User, October, 2000 http://currents.net/articles/1910,3,1,1,1001,00.html

**********

Summer reading" is a defensive attitude. Hey, I'm on vacation. I don't gotta beat my way through the sentences of Henry James with a machete and a headlamp. I am not required to endure metafiction so I can understand the future of the novel . . . Nothing translated from the Polish! I'm getting a tan here!

Both statistics and common sense indicate that reading patterns do not change that much, season by season. What you read in December is more or less what you read in July. But in winter, we can keep our book stack safely private, next to the bed. In summer, we have to lug it onto airplanes or have it next to us on the beach. We need a way of saying, "I am not really this kind of person," when in fact we are that kind of person.

Jon Carroll. "The Books of Summer." San Francisco Chronicle, June 10, 2001. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/
chronicle/archive/2001/06/10/RV132980.DTL

**********

What this evolution illustrates is that publishers will not go away, but that they cannot be complacent. Publishers must serve the values of both authors and readers. If they try to enforce an artificial scarcity, charge prices that are too high or otherwise violate the norms of their target community, they will encourage that community to self-organize, or new competitors will emerge who are better attuned to the values of the community.

Tim O'Reilly. "Nature Debates: Information Wants To Be Valuable." http://www.nature.com/nature/debates/e-access/
Articles/oreilly.html

**********

...Homer Kelly basked in happiness. He adored libraries, any library, from a closet full of books in a rural town hall to the vast collections of Widener Library in Harvard Yard. To Homer, libraries were holy places like churches, and the priestly librarians a blessed race, a saving remnant in a world of sin. Whenever God grew impatient and decided to destroy the world he remembered the librarians and stayed his hand. At least that was Homer's opinion."

The Thief of Venice, by Jane Langton.

**********

"Okay. So you go to a search engine and you enter in 'Saturn' and 'size,' and what it does, it comes back and it's got like five hundred sites and you click on one and it says Saturn has a wheelbase of fourteen feet. . . What my software does," the Rockefeller-in-waiting explained, "it figures out what you really meant because it knows what other stuff you've been asking about while you've been writing this paper, and it knows what you really meant is the planet and not the car, so what it does, it reformulates the query and submits it again."

"Are you telling me that all your software does is something a user could learn to do himself, and better, in fifteen minutes?"

Plotkin, who'd clearly had enough of this conversation, scratched his rear again. "Users are lazy and stupid, Mr. Hanley," he said, as he began to turn away. "And there's no money in making them smarter."

Lee Gruenfeld. The Street. (I recommend the book, a fascinating story of chicanery, stupidity and greed among high-tech start-ups.)

**********

[Douglas Adams died, far too young, this week. My cool quote is a reminder of why so many of us loved him.]

Er ... Good morning, O Deep Thought," said Loonquawl nervously, "do you have ... er, that is..."

"An answer for you?" interrupted Deep Thought majestically. "Yes. I have."
. . .
"To Everything? To the great Question of Life, the Universe and Everything?"
. . .
"Though I don't think," added Deep Thought, "that you're going to like it."
. . .
"Tell us!"

"Alright," said Deep Thought. "The Answer to the Great Question..."

"Of Life, the Universe and Everything..." said Deep Thought.

"Is." said Deep Thought, and paused.

"Yes...!"
. . .
"Forty-two," said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.
. . .
"Forty-two!" yelled Loonquawl. "Is that all you've got to show for seven and a half million years' work?"

"I checked it very thoroughly," said the computer, "and that quite definitely is the answer. I think the problem, to be quite honest with you, is that you've never actually known what the question is."

"But it was the Great Question! The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything!" howled Loonquawl.

"Yes," said Deep Thought with the air of one, who suffers fools gladly, "but what actually is it?"

A slow stupefied silence crept over the men as they stared at the computer and then at each other.

"Well, you know, it's just Everything ... Everything..." offered Phouchg weakly.

"Exactly!" said Deep Thought. "So once you do know what the question actually is, you'll know what the answer means."

Douglas Adams. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

**********

It appears that, quite often, our users don't actually know what their question is. Librarians are good at solving this problem. Through a series of negotiations back and forth, using problem-solving skills, librarians help users learn what it is they really want. A note from our CEO said he had seen a number of our testimonials and commented, "What is striking is the common thread through the testimonials. People wonder how you know what they wanted when they didn't even know themselves."

Eugenie Prime. "The Spider, the Fly and the Internet." E-Content, June, 2000

**********

Truth is after all a moving target
Hairs to split
And pieces that don't fit
How can anybody be enlightened?
Truth is after all so poorly lit.

Rush. "Turn the Page." Hold Your Fire.

**********

The truth shall make ye fret.

Terry Pratchett. The Truth. [The first newspaper in DiscWorld uses "The truth shall make ye free" as its motto. However, their proofreading leaves something to be desired.]

**********

More than anything else, a good reference librarian hates to say, "I don't know." And most would find it severely painful to have to say, "And I can't think of anything else." Vince Lombardi would never admit that anyone could beat his Green Bay Packers, though he would occasionally concede that sometimes his team ran out of time. Good reference librarians can run out of time and resource, but they never let their client go without hope for an answer, without a suggestion as to where the answer might be, or how much money and time it might take to get it.

Barbara Quint. Wilson Library Bulletin, May, 1988. [The QUINTessential Searcher: the Wit and Wisdom of Barbara Quint, which I edited, is due out in July from Information Today.]

**********

It is as though many people read only to find that which is offensive, a vast umbrage army, unconcerned with context . . .

MAYBE WE SHOULD have a nationwide umbrage moratorium. Let's set the odometer back to zero, and assume that everyone is acting out of sincere and useful motives. We will, of course, be disappointed, as there are actual villains out there, but maybe our grip on reality will be a little stronger.

Jon Carroll, "Sir, I Take Personal Offense." San Francisco Chronicle, April 5, 2001

**********

Science is what we understand well enough to explain to a computer. Art is everything else.

Donald Knuth. Wired, November, 1999.

**********

The United States will never have a true national curriculum (besides Jeopardy!)... But it probably makes sense to designate a dozen or so things that every American should know. I'm hardly an expert, but my short list would include: the difference between Theodore and Franklin, and between Joe and Eugene; the significance of Booth, Guiteau, Czolgosz, and Oswald; the meaning of the term "tax event"; the price of gasoline in other industrialized countries; the infield-fly rule; how to tell time on a nondigital watch; the custom that people be allowed off an elevator before others get on; the convention that when walking you keep to the right; the fact that a dozen specimens of a single species don't count as one item for Express Lane purposes; and the fact that the now universal linguistic trope "No problem" is not synonymous with "You're welcome."

Cullen Murphy. "Common Stock." Atlantic, Feb 2001

**********

We teachers and librarians need to forget the novelty of our computers. After all, they'll be as ordinary to our children as the new cars and electricity were in our lives. We need to find ways to walk around our two-dimensional screens -- ways to take our children back to Prospero's rich three-dimensional island of the mind.

We'll never survive a revolution by pretending it doesn't exist. And we ignore the ongoing revolution at great peril. The only people who can ever preserve those values of the old regime that need preserving are the ones who live at the center of the revolution.

So: Be at the center of the storm. Know what the computers can do and what can be done with them. Then ask yourself what human qualities you want to preserve into the 21st century and what human qualities you are ready to let go of -- for we will have to relinquish some of the old virtues.

We are being changed by the machine. And we are being changed radically. But let us not be changed absolutely,. Let us help one another to draw just a few crucial lines in the sand.

John Lienhard. "Children, Literacy and the Computer." A presentation to the ALA, June 30, 1997. http://www.uh.edu/engines/alatalk.htm

**********

Now dawns the celebrated information age, itself something of a misnomer except insofar as information has become the coin of the realm, a proprietary asset ever more jealously guarded and restricted. Commerce, the state, privacy, patent, fair trial, and a long list of other interests compete and conflict with the public's right to know. Some of those restrictions are legitimate and deserving of special attention. But many of us in the press, in public-interest groups, and in academe have come to see that the burden of proof falls upon us, as proxies for the public, to constantly justify why information should be disseminated. And those whom we petition for information that affects our lives, our health, our understanding of the past and present, force us to run a debilitating gantlet.

Ted Gup. "Our Nation of Secrets" The Chronicle of Higher Education, October 13, 2000 .

********

So that's what books really are. They're agents of change. Their tactile, corporeal presence lays its hold on us. They let be us children again -- beings of infinite potential once more.

John Lienhard, at the University of Houston. Engines of our Ingenuity #492: Books. http://www.uh.edu/engines/epi492.htm

**********

For my money reference librarians are one of the most overlooked sources of expert information. Reference librarians are professional information hunters. I deserve a swift kick in the shorts for all the times I've stubbornly wound my way through the library stacks, my mule head leading the way, searching fruitlessly for information a librarian could put in my hands in a matter of minutes. Librarians not only know what's in the library and where to find it, they know what's NOT in the library and where to find it. Librarians are also an excellent source of pertinent tangents. I've been sent down many an unanticipated but productive path by a librarian who said, "Maybe you should consider looking under . . . " Finally, not only is it a librarian's job to assist you in your search, most of them enjoy it thoroughly. The best are tenacious informational gumshoes, happiest when they are on the case.

Michael Perry. Handbook for Freelance Writing, NTC Business Books, 1995.

**********

Books continue to have tremendous impact on readers and society at large; why would anyone bother to try banning them if it were otherwise? Unlike any other form of communication, books create an emotional and intellectual intimacy people are loathe to lose. Libraries, too, are unique and vital places that we should value and protect, just as we fight to preserve prairies and forests, rivers and wetlands. We need it all: the wild and the cultured, books and media, solitude and communion.

Donna Seaman. "A Reading Life in Review." American Libraries, August, 2000

**********

When choosing what path to take to the future, remember the most important factor is not to choose the future that you, advertisers, politicians or technologists would like to see, but what will make a difference in the lives of those you serve. Beware of technolust, which is especially rampant in our society. Never choose a future just because it is technologically alluring. It is easy to choose any future, but the best ones will be useful, solve a need, and be marketable.

John Guscott. "Rules for Imagining the Future of Your Library." Library Futures Quarterly, Spring, 2001. (available by subscription at http://www.libraryfutures.com/)

**********

Obviously, in doing research I cannot read all of every important book, but I have made myself adept at reading indexes, a skill I recommend to would-be writers; I see in the indexes reminders of topics . . . of equal value. I see notations about ramifications that had not occurred to me.

James Michener. The World Is My Home. Random House, 1992.

**********

Alice in Orchestralia [a parody by Ernest LaPrade] gave me the idea that there was an entire world of books, in which one book could have a conversation with another... And it wasn't just that books talked to each other, or tried to. It was as if all books ever written knew one another and made references to this one's outfit, that one's way of talking, the other one's family. I still have this idea ... {There can be] no Wide Sargasso Sea without Jane Eyre.

Susanna Kaysen, in For the Love of Books. Grosset/Putnam, 1999

**********

In teaching, it is the method and not the content that is the message...the drawing out, not the pumping in.

Ashley Montagu.

**********

In the past, even information professionals would accustom themselves to accept the limits of their own collections, or other immediately accessible ones (like the nearest university library) as the limits of their responsibilities for seeking truth.

Barbara Quint. Information Today, April, 1999

**********

All small libraries from whatever caste should look on online technology as the Great Equalizer, rewarding talent and creativity over institutional investment.

Barbara Quint. Wilson Library Bulletin, May, 1988.

**********

Librarians and information professionals have always created and worked with tools that collapse time and space. After all, what is the Dewey decimal system, the Library of Congress subject headings, the MeSH, but a way of collapsing time and space? These systems allow you to find information in the same place, regardless of whether you're in Athens, Georgia or Athens, Greece; in Paris, Idaho or Paris, France; in London, Ontario, Canada or London, England. Just as our tools collapse space, they collapse time. You can find that book in 1905, in 1955, and in 2005. Today's digital libraries did not invent a tool to collapse time and space; we already existed. Yes, it was kludgey, but it was an attempt.

Eugenie Prime. "The Spider, the Fly and the Internet." E-Content, June, 2000

**********

We the people of this place,
Having set ourselves to the task,
having planted an idea
and nurtured it into action,
Having committed our resources
to the re-creation of this
shape-shifting library,

We, the people of this community
now open its doors to all.

excerpted from Chris Dodge and Solveig Nilsen. "Open the Doors: Ridgedale Library Grand Opening Poem." Reprinted in Alternative Library Literature, 1998-1999.

**********

Official history is always phony,
But it never lasts because,
As the old folk singer once said,
The most dangerous political force
In America today is a
Long memory," and memory
Will not die in the special
Collections room of a good
Librarian...

excerpted from J. Quinn Brisben. "In Memoriam Gene de Grusson." Reprinted in Alternative Library Literature, 1998-1999.

**********

Books have always been a thing apart from human concourse. They are a quiet room, apart from the marketplace. The Internet is about business, chat, and play -- all the time with both hands on the wheel. It's flawed, exciting, unstable -- and not to be confused with the full record of ourselves that we keep in books.

John Lienhard, at the University of Houston. Engines of our Ingenuity No. 1269: BOOK/INTERNET OVERLAP. http://www.uh.edu/engines/epi1269.htm

**********

The boisterous sea of liberty is never without a wave.

Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Richard Rush, October 20, 1820.

**********

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.

Darrel Royal, quoted in James Michener's Sports in America

**********

At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, then they begin to hope it can be done, then they see it can be done -- then it is done and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago.

Frances Hodgson Burnett. The Secret Garden

* * *

But contrary to the belief of some, the danger does not lie in the disappearance of the public temples of the book long ago endowed by Andrew Carnegie and other beloved capitalists. Rather, the threat now comes from capitalism itself, which in the digital age ... has set itself on a course of relentless political maneuvering to shrink the boundaries of the public domain.

Julian Dibble. "The Book Is Dead: God Save the Book." Intellectual Capital 10-28-99, http://www.intellectualcapital.com/issues/issue314/item7013.asp

* * *

I truly believe that information HAPPENS to a mind that's got all its antennae out quivering hopefully.

Marylaine Block, in an e-mail to a friend.

* * *

[We tell] netters [they] just have to learn three basic rules: "Information costs," "You can't get something for nothing," and "You only get what you pay for." Just two problems with these arguments: One, they aren't true. Two, everyone knows they aren't true. Millions get quality data free from the Net and its Web every day.

Barbara Quint. "Back to Work on the Web Products." Information Today, October, 1997.

* * *

Chopping down trees get seas of print
Not a soul can read

Midnight Oil. "Who Can Stand in the Way?"

* * *

Columnist Donald Kaul, aka OTC ("Over the Coffee") has written his last column (sob). In it he shared some principles to live by, and I trust he won't sue me for sharing some of them with you:

  • When both political parties agree on an idea, you can be pretty sure it's a bad idea.
  • The first widely accepted explanation of anything is generally wrong.
  • Politicians who promise to cut taxes generally aren't talking about your taxes.
  • Never mistake verbal clumsiness in a politician for sincerity.
  • The fact that life seems increasingly to imitate professional wrestling doesn't make it right.
  • The last place to look for wisdom is your television set.

    * * *

    I will not argue for censorship except from the grass roots up; my argument is for making choices about what we consume. The artist is blessed and cursed with a kind of power, but so are the reader and viewer. The story no longer belongs to the author once it's come to live in your head. By then, it's part of your life. So be careful what you let in the door is my advice. It should not make you feel numb, bored or demeaned or less than human. But I think it's all right if it makes you cry some, or feel understood... or even changes your life a little. It's a story. That's what happens.

    Barbara Kingsolver. "Careful What You Let in the Door," in High Tide in Tucson

    * * * * *

    In learning, the teacher or lecturer has always been the authority in the classroom. With the worldwide web, the distinguishing features of authority disappear and are taken on by those who use language persuasively.

    Neil Hendriksen, The Times, January 30, 2000

    *********

    And where does magic come from? I think magic's in the learning.

    Dar Williams. "Christians and Pagans." from the album Mortal City.

    * * *

    I know one or two things, and one thing I'm sure of is this: if there are a million stories in the Naked City, there are a million beginnings of stories sitting around on disk drives, in spiral notebooks, under the canceled checks in the bottom left-hand drawer of desks. Stories are like romances. Starting them is thrilling. Seeing them through to the end is hard.

    Liz Langley. Pop Tart: A Fresh, Frosted Sugar Rush Through Our Pre-Packaged Culture

    * * *

    What I hope to do is change your thinking from "build it and they will come" to "build it right and they will come back."

    Kim Gunether. "The Evolving Digital Library." Computers in Libraries, February, 2000.

    * * *

    Rien n'est plus dangereux qu'une idée, quand on n'a qu'une idée. [Nothing is as dangerous as an idea when it's the only one you have.]

    Emile-Auguste Chartier. Propos sur la religion (1938) no. 74

    * * *

    Since my family did not own many books, or have the money for a child to buy them, it was good to know that solely by virtue of my municipal citizenship I had access to any book I wanted from that grandly austere bulding downtown...No less satisfying was the idea of communal ownership, property held in common for the common good. Why I had to care for the books I borrowed, return the, unscarred and on time, was because they weren't mine alone, they were everybody's. That idea had as much to do with civilizing me as any I was ever to come upon in the books themselves.

    Philip Roth. New York Times, 1969.

    * * *

    Most new things are not good, and die an early death; but those which push themselves forward and by slow degrees force themselves on the attention of mankind are the unconscious productions of human wisdom, and must have honest consideration, and must not be made the subject of unreasonable prejudice.

    Thomas Brackett Reed, in North American Review, December, 1902.

    * * *

    People are beginning to understand that they can tell their stories on the web. They can self-publish; they can say what's important; they can show pictures of their pets and tell their war stories and remember Grandpa.

    What's happening is that an alternative historical record is being built up. The ephemera of daily life is being preserved as never before. The Web, I realize, is a deeply conservative medium. It looks to the past, not to the future. It is a natural medium for memory.

    "New Thoughts on the Last New Thing." Jon Carroll , in the San Francisco Chronicle, December 12, 1997, http://www.sfgate.com/columnists/carroll/.

    * * *

    The trouble with miracles is figuring out the installation instructions.

    Barbara Quint, in Wilson Library Bulletin, December, 1994

    * * *

    They say that one of the great gifts of human design is the inability to remember pain. Unfortunately, the downside of that gift is a certain flattening in the learning curve.

    Barbara Quint, in Wilson Library Bulletin, January, 1993

    * * *

    "Life being very short, and the quiet hours of it few, we ought to waste none of them in reading valueless books," wrote John Ruskin. A worthy sentiment, no doubt, yet I have always cherished valueless books, that is, books whose chief worth is their simple readability. Page-turners, they are sometimes disparagingly called, as if providing the reader with a reason to turn the page were contemptible -- let alone easy.

    Witold Rybczynski, in For the Love of Books

    * * *

    Interestingly, what had brought me to the Statistical Abstract in the first place was the wish to look up crime figures for the state of New Hampshire where I now live. I had heard it is one of the safest places in America, and indeed the Abstract bore that out. There were just four murders in the state in the last reporting year...

    All that this means, of course, is that statistically, in New Hampshire I am far more likely to be hurt by my ceiling or underpants -- to cite just two potentially lethal examples -- than by a stranger, and frankly, I don't find that comforting at all.

    Bill Bryson. "Well, Doctor, I Was Just Trying To Lie Down..." in I'm a Stranger Here Myself.

    * * *

    Knowledge: noun. The small part of ignorance that we arrange and classify.

    Ambrose Bierce. The Devil's Dictionary

    * * *

    Summer vacation is a time for reading, and my friends come to me to borrow books because I have so many more than most people. In their innocence, they have no idea what I go through in lending a book. They don't understand that I think of myself as offering them love, truth, beauty, wisdom and consolation against death. Nor do they suspect that I feel about lending a book the way most men feel about their daughters living with a man out of wedlock.

    Anatole Broyard. "Lending Books." In A Passion for Books.

    **************


    I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.

    Jorge Luis Borges

    **************


    Now, with my adolescence behind me and my daughter's still ahead, I am nearly speechless with gratitude for the endurance and goodwill of librarians in an era that discourages reading in almost incomprehensible ways.

    Barbara Kingsolver. "How Mr. Dewey Decimal Saved My Life." In her collection of essays, High Tide in Tucson

    **************


    A librarian named Miss Truman Richey snatched me from the jaws of ruin, and it's too late now to thank her. I'm not the first person to notice that we rarely get around to thanking those who've helped us most. Salvation is such a heady thing that the temptation is to dance gasping on the shore, shouting that we are alive, till our forgotten savior has long since gone under. Or else sit quietly, sideswiped and embarrassed, mumbling that we really did pretty much know how to swim. But now that I see the wreck that could have been, without Miss Richey, I'm of a fearsome mind to throw my arms around every living librarian who crosses my path, on behalf of the souls they never knew they saved.

    Barbara Kingsolver. "How Mr. Dewey Decimal Saved My Life." In her collection of essays, High Tide in Tucson

    **************


    I've never really been in awe of machines. I've always been of the mind that machines are our friends, not our equals.

    David Bowie, Shift, November, 1999

    **************


    Power shifts occur gradually, but they do occur. Online databases have a democratizing, egalitarian effect. In fact, if it weren't for the high price, they might even have changed the world beyond your recognition, bringing the average library patron information previously reserved for fully tenured professors working in major research libraries.

    the always prescient Barbara Quint, in Wilson Library Bulletin, April, 1993.

    **************


    There are 10,000 books in my library, and it will keep on growing until I die. If I had not picked up this habit in the library long ago, I would have more money in the bank today; I would not be richer.

    Pete Hamill. Quoted in A Passion for Books

    **************


    The measure of quality of a college has nothing to do with counting computers or ethernet ports. I believe that a student can turn in a good paper without clip art, hypertext, or internet references. That school art should center on creating, not viewing images of museum masterpieces. That a quality library must be centered on books and periodicals. That librarians -- not information specialists -- should be running our libraries. That in times of shrinking education budgets and librarian layoffs, it's an outrage to pour limited funds into fast obsoleted computers.

    Clifford Stoll. High Tech Heretic

    **************


    Good ideas are not adopted automatically. They must be driven into practice with courageous impatience.

    Admiral Hyman Rickover

    **************

    And the artist is sort of a scout for society; he goes ahead and sees what we cannot yet see for ourselves. We should not shoot our scouts if we do not like what they see; we are going to be living in their present soon enough.

    Jon Carroll, "The Art Thing Is Getting Out of Hand" (and if you don't read his San Francisco Chronicle column online, you're missing something special. Check it out, along with his archive at http://www.sfgate.com/columnists/carroll/

    **************


    Information isn't power. Who's got the most information in your neighborhood? Librarians, and they're famous for having no power at all. Who has the most power in your community? Politicians, of course. And they're notorious for being ill-informed.

    Clifford Stoll, High Tech Heretic.

    ********

    Data isn't information. There's a wide gulf between data -- bits, bytes, numbers and words -- and information. Information, unlike data, has accuracy. It's reliable. It's timely. Understandable. Information comes with a pedigree...you know the source. Information, unlike data, is useful.

    Clifford Stoll, High Tech Heretic.

    **************


    The ocean flows of online information are all streaming together, and the access tools are becoming absolutely critical. If you don't index it, it doesn't exist. It's out there, but you can't find it, so it might as well not be there.

    Barbara Quint, Searcher, 1994.

    **************


    There is no greater authorial sin than releasing a book without an index. It should even be made an indictable offense.

    S.R. Ranganathan in Library Book Selection

    **************


    Nothing ages people like not thinking.

    Christopher Morley

    **************


    Wasn't the last staff meeting you attended a boring, nonproductive waste of time? Of course it was; but things would have been much different if everybody at the meeting had been required to communicate with finger puppets. The discussion would have been characterized by more fun and openness and less tedium and posturing. If you don't believe me, just try it. I'm serious.

    Will Manley, quoted in American Libraries, February 2000, p.39

    **********

    Nobody who can read is ever successful at cleaning out an attic.

    F. Jones

    **********

    Try substituting the word "librarians" in this quote:

    It is dangerously narrowminded for a storeowner to believe that competition comes only from others in his or her category. In truth, retailers compete with every other demand on consumer time and money.

    Paco Underhill. Why We Buy

    **************


    Incessant search by many minds produces more [and more valuable] knowledge than the attempt to program the paths to discovery by a single one.

    Aaron Wildavsky

    **************


    A young boy in Harlem was sitting at a computer in a library, clearly loving the experience. When asked why, he said of the computer, "It doesn't know I'm black."

    Roger Rosenblatt, in "A Letter to the Year 2100," Time, January 1, 2000.

    **************


    For a list of ways technology has failed to improve the quality of life, please press 3.

    Two trucks loaded with a thousand copies of Roget's Thesaurus collided as they left a New York publishing house last week, according to the Associated Press. Witnesses were stunned, startled, aghast, taken aback, stupefied, appalled, surprised, shocked and rattled.

    Both from Alan Schlein

    **************


    A free society is one where it is safe to be unpopular.

    Adlai Stevenson

    **************


    Extremists think "communication" means agreeing with them.

    Leo Rosten

    **************


    The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.

    Mark Twain

    **************


    ...even as a stimulus for reminiscence, a treasured book is more important than a dance card, or the photo that freezes you in mid-teeter at the edge of the Grand Canyon, because such a book can be a significant event in the history of your reading, and your reading (provided you are significant) should be an essential segment of your character and your life.

    William H. Gass. "In Defense of the Book." Harper's Magazine, November, 1999

    **************


    We have to cure ourselves of the itch for absolute knowledge and power. We have to close the distance between the push-button order and the human act. We have to touch people.

    Jacob Bronowski. The Ascent of Man

    **************


    Censorship, like charity, should begin at home; but, unlike charity, it should end there.

    Clare Booth Luce

    *********


    The walls of books around him, dense with the past, formed a kind of insulation against the present world and its disasters.

    Ross MacDonald

    *********


    We're at the "beginning of history." Everything created before the year 2000 will be inaccessible by 21st century technologies. Specialists will be needed to retrieve this prehistorical information. The Internet makes the human race smarter, not wiser.

    Vernor Vinge, at the ALA Conference, July, 1999

    *********


    Doing research on the Web is like using a library assembled piecemeal by packrats and vandalized nightly.

    Roger Ebert, in Yahoo! Internet Life, September, 1998, p.66

    *********


    A scholar is a library's way of making another library.
    Daniel Dennett

    Thanks to reader Kevin McKern.

    *********


    From one of my all-time favorite rock bands, The Church. It's from the song "Volumes," on the album Remote Luxury. It's a nice reminder that it's not just information, internet and databases.

    Volumes have secrets. Take them on holidays.
    Book them a room, save them a moment.

    **********

    This is from Tara Calishain's Research Buzz (http://www.researchbuzz.com/news/index.html) and I couldn't agree with her more:

    Okay: about two weeks ago Steve Lawrence and the NEC crew release a study that says that even the BEST search engine indexes less than 20 percent of the Web. So AltaVista -- one of the best-known search engines on the 'Net, long famous for no muss no fuss -- what do they do in response to the news? THEY'RE GETTING INTO ISP SERVICES AND PERSONALIZED PORTAL PAGES!

    Okay, okay -- I know there's not a direct correlation, but! HERE'S A LOOPY IDEA: Why don't the SEARCH ENGINES WORK ON INDEXING MORE THAN 20% OF THE WEB?! You want to stand out in the crowd? Want to get lots of attention and market share? Why not retool your search engine so it SEARCHES BETTER? Don't give me my flippin' horoscope, don't partner up with someone who's already distributing content to a billion other sites, don't try to sell me stuff I don't need. JUST MAKE THE SEARCH FUNCTION WORK BETTER.

    The question for Excite, HotBot, AltaVista, and all the others is this: are you search engines, or are you here to sell me stuff? Make up your mind and let me know. In the meantime I'll be over at Google.com .

    **********

    "Mary Kay is one of the secret masters of the world: a librarian. They control information. Don't ever piss one off."
    Spider Robinson. The Callahan Touch