Ex Libris: an E-Zine for Librarians sponsored by
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#238, February 4, 2005

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
  29. Péter Jacsó

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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 750 and 1000 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 Marylaine Block

I don't know about you, but I would love it if someday, people turned to libraries to find out what's new and cool and important. I would love it if someday we could be leading the race instead of ambling to the starting gate just as the last place finisher crosses the finish line. Yes, yes, I know, if wishes were horses then beggars would ride, but as it happens, I do have a few suggestions on how we might at least approach this goal.

First, let's talk about how to have our exhibits in place BEFORE the next big movie/book/TV show/album comes along. How do we catch the stars that haven't quite risen yet but are about to become overnight sensations?

These days, buzz is spread on the internet, through blogs and fan sites and trade publications. That means that the search engines' own monitoring systems for the most frequently searched terms are good places to find out what rising stars are on the verge of becoming supernovas.

Lycos 50 would be a great one, even if it offered no more than its weekly lists of the top 50 search terms, along with the number of weeks they've been in the top 50, and their previous position on the list. But it also offers daily commentary on what's popular in particular subject areas -- games (if you'd been watching this, you would have been ready for the sudden passion for Texas Hold-em), bands, soap operas, fads, technologies ("Just this week [December 13] the iPod made it's first-ever appearance on the Lycos 50 as the hottest tech toy this holiday season. The iPod has seen a 445 percent increase in search activity over the past four weeks."). Could "podcasting" be in our future? (What's podcasting? Read more about it from Cindy Chick in Invasion of the Podcasters,

Google offers the same sort of thing with its Google Zeitgeist, It's not as informative, though, because it only offers the top ten gaining and declining search terms for each week, which doesn't give you very much useful trend information. Even so, notice again that the iPod Shuffle is number 7 for the week ending January 17.

The Metafilter Community Weblog,, is another good place for keeping up with the zeitgeist. There, you'll find out about everything from nifty and/or bizarre web sites to music, movies, comics, politics, you name it.

To get an idea what books are about to be in high demand, Library Journal is pretty handy. Click on the current issue of LJ at, and click on its handy PrePub Alert. At the very least, you'll know what books are going to get heavy promotion in the next few months. Authors on the Web News,, also has announcements of forthcoming books and other news. BookBrowser,, now at Barnes & Noble, offers a "Coming Soon" feature for a variety of genres, and Writer Alerts, so you'll be notified by e-mail of forthcoming publications by your favorite writers (you'll want to tell your readers about this). And you can Google "author tours" to find out which authors the various publishers are sending across the US to promote and sign their books.

For popular music, Billboard,, is a great source. It keeps track of "Chart Stars," top grossing concerts, "Hot Products," "Breaking and Entering" (its up and coming artists feature) and other items of interest. It also offers a Tour Finder.

As far as technology is concerned, libraries will probably always be at least a little behind the curve, simply because of the necessary but ponderous budgeting and technology planning processes. We have to be sure the technologies will work, after all, sure they will actually enable us to improve service to our customers, sure we can afford them, and sure we will have the time to train everybody on our staff in their use.

That said, there nonetheless should be at least one person on the library staff who's assigned to monitor new technologies with an eye to how they might be useful in a library context.

I'm not much of a techie myself, but even I have a tech monitoring system, to which I apply my Rule of Three: If within one week, I hear about a new technology from three entirely different sources, at least one of whom is a librarian, I need to stay on the alert for more information. If I'm still hearing about it over the next month, I need to start seriously reading up on it.

The regular reads in my indiosyncratic tech monitoring system are:

  • BoingBoing,, where I can count on geeks to tell me about cool new games, gadgets, programs, and such.
  • ZDNet Technology News,, where I'll not only find out about new products, search systems, functionalities, viruses, problems, and lawsuits, I'll also be able to look through product reviews for anything that sounds interesting.
  • Wired News -- also for serious geeks. Be sure to click on Gadgets and Gizmos.
  • Lycos 50, as mentioned above.
  • New York Times Technology News, where I get not just tech news, but thought pieces on the broader implications.
  • The Shifted Librarian, -- Jenny Levine always has good ideas about how librarians might use new technologies
  • Library Stuff -- So does Steven Cohen
  • Tame the Web: Libraries and Technology, -- and Michael Stephens, who as technology trainer and Special Projects Librarian at the St. Joseph County Public Library in South Bend, IN, has actually introduced a fair amount of new technologies into his library and knows for a fact that they work well.

    And as I've mentioned previously, in the guru interview with John Guscott,, you could be subscribing to his Library Futures Quarterly, in which he tracks a variety of demographic, cultural and technological trends librarians should be paying attention to.

    Last, but not least, since it's the easiest thing to do: watch your own customers and start counting the technologies they are carrying around with them. How many of them have iPods? MP3 players? Palm Pilots? Handheld computers or Tablets? How many ask about wireless internet access? How many are doing text messaging? How many ask if they can download data onto CDs?

    Then ask yourself: What library services are you providing that are accessible in these users' chosen formats? How many people on your staff are familiar with all of these technologies?

    If the answer to these questions is "None," ask yourself why not?

    If the answer is, "Several," ask whether these users are aware that these services and capabilities are available. Do they know they can download your library's e-books onto their Palm Pilots, or check out books on MP3? Do they know they can ask a librarian a question by instant messaging? If the answer to these questions is "No," how about you start telling them?

    I don't know if all that is enough to make our libraries cool. But it sure could make them coolER. That would be a good start.

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    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,

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    You are welcome to copy and forward any of my own articles (but not those by my guest writers) for noncommercial purposes as long as you credit ExLibris and cite the permanent URL for the article. Please do NOT copy and post my articles to your own web sites, however. Instead, please copy a brief excerpt and link to the URL for the remainder of the article.

    Ex Libris: an E-Zine for Librarians and Other Information Junkies.
    Copyright, Marylaine Block, 1999-2005.

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