Ex Libris: an E-Zine for Librarians sponsored by my bulk
mail provider,


#291, November 17, 2006

SUBJECT INDEX to Past Issues

* * *

Neat New Stuff I Found This Week

* * *

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

* * *

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

* * *

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.

* * *

What IS Ex Libris?

The purpose and intended scope of this e-zine

* * *

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.

* * *

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

* * *

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

* * *

Cool Quotes

The collected quotes from all previous issues are at

* * *

When and How To Search the Net

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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

* * *

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.

* * *

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

* * *

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.

* * *

My personal page


by Marylaine Block

I've been thinking lately about a problem with our profession's democratic commitment to providing excellent service to every member of our community: this national goal can only be carried out by individual libraries, many of which are critically underfunded. Small town and rural libraries in particular must compete with other public services for limited funds drawn from a limited tax base of small or widely dispersed populations.

Which means that the quality of library service Americans get depends almost entirely on where they happen to live.

There are, of course, some agencies that supplement the funding for these libraries, including state libraries, library consortia, the Gates Foundation, and the federal e-rate program. But the e-rate program comes with strings attached: its recipients have no choice but to abide by every idea - good, bad or stupid beyond belief - that Congress comes up with about internet access in libraries.

It may be that left to their own devices, these library directors would choose to place limits on young people's access to various kinds of internet sites and services, in accordance with state and local laws or their own perceptions of community sentiment.

It may be that they would not.

But I do agree with ALA that that is where the decision should be made: within the community, by a library director in tune with its needs. The decision should not be the result of congressional extortion.

So my question is: can we as a profession provide an alternative funding source for internet connectivity for small, underfunded libraries?

ALA already maintains one foundation to support the freedom to read. I wonder whether ALA might extend that foundation's mission to support the freedom to access internet services and information? Or whether ALA might create a separate foundation to provide support to small libraries, either directly or through grants to state libraries?

Why should this matter to the rest of us? To libraries that have adequate (though not lavish) funding? To libraries whose programs and services are well-used and valued?

I think it matters because the very concept of a public library is under attack. By people who don't like to pay taxes. By people who think the internet provides all the answers anybody needs for free. By people who don't much care that not everybody has their own computer and internet access.

By people who think it's simply irrelevant - a musty, dusty place with nothing but old books and old ladies.

The more libraries that defy those characterizations, the better for all libraries, the better for the public, and the better for the ideal that no matter where you live, you are entitled to quality library service. Under these circumstances, it's in our professional interest to help even the smallest libraries provide excellent service.

I would be willing to contribute to such a foundation. Would you? Is this something we should ask ALA to do?

* * * * *


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

* * *

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, 1999-2006.

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