Ex Libris: an E-Zine for Librarians

#109, August 3, 2001


* * * * * * * * *

Guru Interviews

  1. Tara Calishain
  2. Jenny Levine, part I
  3. Jenny Levine, Part II
  4. Reva Basch
  5. Sue Feldman
  6. Jessamyn West
  7. Debbie Abilock
  8. Kathy Schrock
  9. Greg Notess
  10. William Hann
  11. Chris Sherman
  12. Gary Price
  13. Barbara Quint
  14. Rory Litwin

* * * * * * * * *

Wanna See Your Name in Lights?

Or at least on this page, anyway? I'd like to print here your contributions as well as mine. As you've noticed, articles are brief, somewhere between 200 and 500 words -- something to jog people's minds and get their own good ideas flowing. I'd also be happy to run other people's contributions to the regular features like Favorite Sites on _____. I'll pay you the same rate I pay me: nothing.

* * * * * * * * *

E-Mail Subscription?

To subscribe to a combined subscription to Neat New Stuff and ExLibris, please click HERE, complete the form, and click on "subscribe." To unsubscribe, use the same form but click on "unsubscribe." To change addresses for an existing subscription, unsubscribe from that form and then return to the page to enter the new address.
PRIVACY POLICY: I don't collect or reveal information about subscribers.

* * * * *

Cool Quotes

The collected quotes are at

* * * * *

Drop me a Line

Want to comment, ask questions, submit articles, or invite me to speak or do some training? Contact me at: marylaine at

* * * * * * * * *

When and How To Search the Net

Visit My Other Sites

My page on all things book-related. NEW STUFF ADDED in August

* * *

Best Information on the Net
The directory I built for O'Keefe Library, St. Ambrose University, still my favorite pit stop on the information highway.

* * *

My Word's Worth
a weekly column on books, words, libraries, American culture, and whatever happens to interest me.

Subject Index to My Word's Worth at

* * *

Observing US

Sadly, my column at Fox News Online is no more -- Fox has removed the archive from its server.

* * *

My personal page

* * *

SUBJECT INDEX to Past Issues

* * * * * * * * *

Neat New Stuff I Found This Week
August 3: collectible glass, mad cows, kids doing good things, and more.

* * * * * * * * *

My resume
Or why you might want to hire me for speaking engagements or workshops. To see outlines for presentations I've done, click on Handouts

* * * * * * * * *

What IS Ex Libris?

The purpose and intended scope of this e-zine -- always keeping in mind that in response to readers, I may add, subtract, and change features.

* * * * * * * * *

Highlights from Previous Issues:

My Rules of Information

  1. Go where it is
  2. The answer depends on the question
  3. Research is a multi-stage process
  4. Ask a Librarian
  5. Information is meaningless until queried by human intelligence
  6. Information can be true and still wrong


Mark Smith, ed. Neal-Schuman, 2001. 1-55570-395-x. $45.00. To order: or 800-584-2414

The Internet has been a mixed blessing for librarians. It has given us the ability to extend our "collection" well beyond the reach of our normal materials budget, and has allowed us to deliver our catalog and full-text databases to our users at any hour of the day or night. At the same time, it has made us public enemy number one, target of Dr. Laura, pro-family pressure groups, and congressmen, who regard the Library Bill of Rights as a license for pornographers. It has even caused conflict within our own libraries, as some staff members have sued their libraries for exposing them to sexual harassment by way of the internet.

What this book does is address not only the philosophical and legal issues involved, in essays by Nancy Kranich and Judith Krug, but the practical issues involved in dealing with all our constituencies: children, parents, our library boards, the media, local politicians, and friends of the library. (The book would benefit from a chapter on dealing with local church leaders as well.)

Carolyn Caywood's essay on working with staff is particularly valuable because in many libraries, policy is set by librarians alone, but enforced by all library staff, who may or may not understand the rationale behind the policies. She points out the need for the entire library staff to work out not only the policies, but scenarios for dealing with specific problem behaviors by patrons using the internet. All staff members need to know exactly what patron behaviors are unacceptable, what wording to use to explain the policies, and what degree of authority they have to deal with them. Moreover, all library staff needs to be given the time and training to master the basics of internet search and retrieval.

The essay on dealing with local politicians is valuable because it teaches us to think about the issue in terms of their needs -- for making a difference, avoiding controversy, and getting re-elected. That means librarians need to be able to tell legislators how public internet access improves the lives of their constituents, by providing better service and expanded access to more people, at a reasonable price. They need to identify potential allies and enemies and build coalitions and coordinated strategies.

Patricia Glass Schuman's article, "Say the Right Thing! Twelve Rules for Answering Tough Questions," is an outstanding guide to dealing with reporters looking for a controversy or a "gotcha" story. Gordon Conable's essay gives strategies for educating library trustees about the benefits of the internet and policy options for avoiding adverse consequences and public controversy. Carolyn Noah shows some of the guides and training a number of libraries have provided for young people. Ann K. Symons suggests a number of strategies for helping parents understand the internet and guide their children through it. An especially interesting chapter explains how the Santa Clara County Library, aided by the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, spent two years and endless public meetings developing a policy that satisfied most constituents, and at the very least convinced everyone that their concerns were heard and taken into account.

The weakness of any anthology is unevenness -- some pieces have more value than others. The strength is how much wider an array of ideas and opinions it can bring to a subject. I have never subscribed to the theory that a "camel-is-a-horse-designed-by-a-committee." I think we all have unique perspectives, experiences, and ideas to inform our decisionmaking, and on an issue as explosive as this, the more voices we can hear and learn from, the better.

Reviewed by Marylaine Block

* * * * *


by Houston R. Allen,

There are many folks out there offering products, services, and advice for PC and Internet problems. Here are few of my findings, which may help avoid or solve some of the more frequently arising problems:

  1. If your computer has a Disk Defragmenter option, use it, and at least once per week. This helps your computer rebuild its file structures after heavy use, and may help avoid an eventual system breakdown. Some tips on using "defrag" may be found at
  2. If you're having problems with an application, and have the source disk to re-install it, you may have some extraneous entries in the Windows Registry that are causing problems. There are two utilities I recommend, depending on the problem: Regclean.exe, a Microsoft utility for general registry cleanup, found at, and Regcleaner.exe, a non-Microsoft utility for removing references to specific programs (such as those you thought you had fully deleted long ago), available at This one in particular can be helpful prior to re-installing a problem application.
  3. If you're not happy with your internet connection speed, there are a couple of places you can run an internet speedometer test:, and
  4. A visit from a technician with AT&T's @home cable Internet service showed that my high-speed Internet was only functioning at around 56K. He showed me some tweaks available at, and after installing the appropriate one for my system; my download speeds are now in the 1.5 - 2.0 MB range! There are also some discussion forums available there which may be helpful with specific problems.
  5. Use Anti-Virus Software! I use McAfee currently, found at and am very pleased with it. I also routinely encourage my readers to check out any new reports of viruses first to see if they are hoaxes. Both McAfee and Symantec have virus hoax lists, at and, respectively.
  6. I recommend as a general resource for PC related questions.
  7. Is your computer clock slipping or running ahead? You may eventually need a new battery for your PC, but in the meantime, try Web Time at
  8. And before you spend three hours on your cell phone with your vendor's tech support, check out your cell phone radiation readings at

All the above links may be found on my web site at See you in cyberspace!

* * * * *


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.

* * * * *

You are welcome to copy and distribute or e-mail any of my own articles for noncommercial purposes (but not those by my guest writers) as long as you retain this copyright statement:

Ex Libris: an E-Zine for Librarians and Other Information Junkies.
Copyright, Marylaine Block, 2000.

[Publishers may license the content for a reasonable fee.]