Ex Libris: an E-Zine for Librarians sponsored by
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#218, July 2, 2004

SUBJECT INDEX to Past Issues

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Neat New Stuff I Found This Week

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

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My Writings
A bibliography of my published articles and columns, with links to those available online.

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Order My Books

Net Effects: How Librarians Can Manage the Unintended Consequences of the Internet, and The Quintessential Searcher: the Wit and Wisdom of Barbara Quint.

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What IS Ex Libris?

The purpose and intended scope of this e-zine

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E-Mail Subscription?

For 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 return to the page to enter the new address.

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Highlights from Previous Issues:

My Rules of Information

  1. Go where it is
  2. Corollary: Who Cares?
  3. The answer depends on the question
  4. Research is a multi-stage process
  5. Ask a Librarian
  6. Information is meaningless until queried by human intelligence
  7. Information can be true and still wrong
  8. Pay attention to the jokes

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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
  15. John Guscott
  16. Brian Smith
  17. Darlene Fichter
  18. Brenda Bailey-Hainer
  19. Walt Crawford
  20. Molly Williams
  21. Genie Tyburski
  22. Patrice McDermott
  23. Carrie Bickner
  24. Karen G. Schneider
  25. Roddy MacLeod, Part I
  26. Roddy MacLeod, Part II
  27. John Hubbard
  28. Micki McIntyre

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Cool Quotes

The collected quotes from all previous issues are at

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When and How To Search the Net

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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.

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Drop me a Line

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

Visit My Other Sites

My page on all things book-related.

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How To Find Out of Print Books
Suggested strategies, resources, and finding tools.

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

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

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Book Proposal

Land of Why Not: an Appreciation of America. Proposal for an anthology of some of my best writing. An outline and sample columns are available here.

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My personal page


by Bill Drew, Associate Librarian, Systems and Reference, Morrisville State College Library, aka the Wireless Librarian: BillDrew.Net: AOL Instant Messenger:BillDrew4

McDonald's, Barnes & Noble, Starbucks, Borders, LaGuardia International Airport, Best Western, Sheraton, Marriott. What do all of these locations have in common? They all provide access to Wireless Local Area Networks (WLANs), commonly called wireless or wi-fi. If McDonalds and Borders can do it, why can't your library? Are you afraid of the costs or can't think of why you should be doing it?

There are many reasons for implementing wireless in your library. Wireless allows for flexible configuration of rooms using laptops. Patrons can work where ever they want in a space covered by a wireless local area network. Your library users can bring in their own wireless devices. It can result in greater productivity for your staff and improved service to your patrons. Patrons and staff will be able to access networked resources at meetings. You will be able to provide printing from anywhere in the library. You can also place computers where needed, not just where there is wire. Wireless will allow reference staff to roam with access to network and library resources.

It's not even particularly expensive; cost per seat cost can be lower than adding ports to a wired network. Wireless kits can be purchased at Wal-Mart for sixty dollars. Installation can be very fast. All that is required is a port connected to your broadband connection and electrical power.

WLANs work in much the same way as your cellular phone. The area you want covered by the network has an access point (AP) installed -- a radio transmitter and receiver that are connected directly to your wired network. It receives the radio signal sent out by the network interface card (NIC), a card installed in your computer or wireless device that sends and receives signals from the access point. The signals between the access point and the NIC are your invisible network cable that connects you to the World Wide Web and the Internet.

The most up-to-date wireless setups are based on the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) 802.11b or 802.11a or 802.11g standards. These are commonly referred to as wi-fi by many writers. Areas covered by wireless are also called "hotspots." If you are purchasing new equipment, make sure it meets the IEEE 802.11g standard and is Wi-Fi certified, because 802.11g provides greater bandwidth and is compatible with the common 802.11b standard. Wi-Fi certification will ensure that you can buy Access Points and Network Interface Cards from different manufacturers as long as they all have the Wi-Fi stamp of approval.

Wireless standards are used so that manufacturers can produce devices that will talk with each other no matter what the brand. 802.11 includes several separate standards, each designated with a letter of the alphabet. Here is a list and short description of the more important ones:

  • 802.11a: 5GHz- not as widely used as b.
  • 802.11b: 11 Mbps, 2.4 GHz, most popular.
  • 802.11e: Quality of Service for voice and full motion video.
  • 802.11f: similar to Wi-Fi compatibility.
  • 802.11g: Higher Data rate (>20 Mbps) 2.4GHz . Will be most widely used.
  • 802.11i: Authentication and security .

    Security should be a major concern when setting up a WLAN. Most access points use Wired Equivalent Privacy algorithm, or WEP. The problem with WEP is that signals are not encrypted, and anyone walking by with proper equipment could use the network. However, WEP is better than nothing, so be sure to turn it on. Do not use the default settings, which are well-known to those who exploit security flaws. There are also other steps you may want to take. One new item available on newer equipment is Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA). It is much more secure than WEP. Also, new security standards are about to be adopted by IEEE, 802.11i. New devices or software upgrades should be available soon after it is adopted.

    National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recommends the following security measures:

  • Develop a security program.
  • Have a complete inventory of all access points.
  • Change default settings on access points.
  • Enable all security features of your WLAN.
  • Use encrypted authentication and Vitrual Private Networks (VPNs).
  • Consider using a firewall between WLAN and rest of network.

    There are several things that need to be taken into consideration when planning for your wireless installation. Do not forget that you must have a wired network in order to have a wireless network. Wireless will be slower than your wired LANs (<100 Mbps), since wireless bandwidth is less than wired. It will have a high reliability because of fewer points of failure than the wired network. There are only two points of possible failure, the AP [access points] or the NIC. Both can be replaced very easily to trouble shoot the problem.

    Wireless allows a user to move from access point to access point through a building without losing connectivity. You need to decide where such areas will be. Compatibility and Interoperability are crucial. Be sure that cards you purchase for your computers can talk with the access points. To ensure this, use only Wi-Fi certified equipment. You need to know the physical structure of your building. Brick and stone can block signals. Steel or wire mesh used in some construction will also block signals. What is under that plaster in the lobby? What is in the concrete floor between the second and third stories? Will the microwave in the staff lounge need to be moved?

    Once you are ready to consider wireless, you're probably wondering where you can go for help. One place to start is with the LibWireless discussion group, whose purpose is to discuss libraries and all types of wireless technologies, including, but not limited to, wireless LANs in libraries, accessing library resources via wireless devices, and related issues such as wireless bookmobiles, etc. I am the "owner" of LibWireless. To subscribe, use the online form at You can also go to my website, The Wireless Librarian, at, which includes an article bibliography (with links to full text where available), a book bibliography, and links to libraries with wireless networks, to vendors, and to other useful resources.

    JUST DO IT!!

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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.

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    Ex Libris: an E-Zine for Librarians and Other Information Junkies.
    Copyright, Marylaine Block, 1999-2004.

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

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