Ex Libris: an E-Zine for Librarians sponsored by
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#258, August 5, 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
  30. the "It's All Good" bloggers
  31. the "It's All Good" bloggers, part 2

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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


Susan E. Cleyle and Louise M. McGillis, eds. Last One Out Turn Off the Lights: Is This the Future of American and Canadian Libraries?. Scarecrow Press, 2005. 0-8108-5192-x. $45. Reviewed by Marylaine Block

This is a book I really looked forward to reading, since the future of libraries is rather a pressing concern for me. I'd really expected to be able to give it a glowing review. Unfortunately, while I think several of the essays written specifically for this book are important and deserving of wide readership, it seems to me that the book lacks a compelling overall vision that makes you understand why those topics were chosen and how each piece fits into the scheme. While I was reading this, I kept wondering where I was going, and why.

This is one of the rare cases where the introduction could profitably have been longer, so the editors could explain their rationale in depth. Starting with the unarguable premise that libraries must change to survive, they chose these directions for change:

  • finding more appealing ways of serving our users' needs by borrowing from the most effective strategies of our competitors: chain bookstores and the internet

  • emphasizing the value of the library as place

  • pushing library services to the desktop

  • professional certification

  • the role library associations can play

    I think it's safe to say that many of us would be puzzled by some of these choices and disappointed at all the strategies omitted from consideration.

    That said, here are some of the compelling reasons to read this book:

  • Amanda Etches-Johnson's essay on using a library blog to serve users and stay relevant. She explains the wide variety of ways in which librarians are using blogs -- "what's new" pages, readers' advisory, construction updates, for instance -- and then suggests the benefits of thinking of it as "a dynamic, user-centered interactive space," a means for users to comment on library issues, initiate community discussions, and "play an important role in public discourse."

  • Ruth E. Kifer's article, "Real University Libraries Don't Have Neon Lights" explains how the Johnson Center Library at the Fairfax, Virginia campus of George Mason University fuses into a hybrid academic/student activities building, and the opportunities and challenges this has posed for librarians.

  • Paul Whitney's article on Vancouver's Carnegie Library as Civic Space, which traces its historic roots and continuing role in serving Vancouver's dispossessed. Ironically, the opportunity to upgrade the facilities unleashes fears that its fundamental mission and character might change also. "'Do no harm to Carnegie'" has become a recurrent theme in the preliminary discussions."

  • the epilogue, by Waynn Pearson, Director of the Cerritos Library <>, which every librarian should read. He explains how we, too, can do what he did: turn a library from a service into an experience and turn non-users into regulars. It's not just through the building design, though his building is amazing (take the tour at the library's web site). It's the approach. "...understand how regular people prefer to do business and then plan services accordingly," he says. Observe people's behavior outside the library to find out what experiences people want. Don't settle for providing information when you could also be connecting with people's experiences and inspiring their imagination. Create gathering places. Make your users feel good.

    You don't have to put his ideas into place, or even agree with them, to appreciate their power to make you "willing to throw out everything you originally KNEW about libraries, at least to begin with." Because, "Change isn't just about doing the same things in new ways; it's about doing entirely new things." Read this and feel the fresh air blowing away the cobwebs.

    These and other intriguing articles make the book well worth your time. Despite my reservations about its organizational plan, I recommend it.

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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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    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.]