Ex Libris: an E-Zine for Librarians

#92, March 23, 2001


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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

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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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PRIVACY POLICY: I don't collect or reveal information about subscribers.

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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

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When and How To Search the Net

Visit My Other Sites

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

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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.

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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

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My personal page

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SUBJECT INDEX to Past Issues

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Neat New Stuff I Found This Week
March 23: business etiquette abroad, a Spanish language children's page, salary info, fair market prices for almost anything, and more.

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My resume
Or why you might want to hire me for speaking engagements or workshops.

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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.

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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

Sorry, but I have lots of deadlines this week and next, so this book review is all I've got time to do.


Dennis C. Tucker. Information Today, 1999. ISBN 1-57387-069-2 $35.00. (May be ordered direct from

Having helped move our library collection and equipment from an old building without elevators to a brand new building double its size and fully accessible, I can assure you that before you make a major move yourself, you will want to read this book, as practical a step-by-step guide to the decisions you have to make, the available alternatives, and their advantages and drawbacks.

Tucker says the first and most important part of the process is choosing a move director who will be responsible for assigning responsibilities and meeting schedules. He's right -- having a woman with uncommon organizational and analytical skills in charge of ours made all the difference between a smooth transition and chaos. Just as important, though, is a move committee to provide suggestions and enlist necessary support from all library staff and the community the library serves.

Tucker suggests preliminary steps like weeding the collection -- why go to the trouble of moving something that nobody has used in the last 25 years or is likely to use in the next 25? -- and measuring the linear feet occupied by the existing collection and calculating the distribution of expansion space. (We knew exactly which shelf every single book was to end up on before we ever made our move.) He suggests several techniques for making those measurements.

He discusses factors that affect the decision about when to make the move: weather, availability of workers, and the plans and schedules others may have for use of the building you're vacating. (We had faculty crawling around with tape measures, each one with grand dreams about how they'd use our space.)

Then there's the question of how the move is going to be made: by professional movers (preferably experienced library movers), hand to hand through a human chain, or by mass checkout from the old building and return to the new building. If you have no elevator, what techniques are available for moving the books down? After discussing the advantages and drawbacks of all of these techniques, he goes on to the methods of physically handling the books -- do you box them? Stack them? Move them in book trucks or troughs? And incidentally, are you insured for any injuries that occur in the process? And if you're moving on a vile weather day, how are you going to protect the books and equipment?

There's a lot more here, from communicating with and organizing library staff, deciding whether and how to maintain service while the move is going on, and doing a complete shelf-reading once the books are in their new home. You get the picture: this man is THOROUGH. He raises questions and proposes alternative solutions that will not have occurred to you.

Having your entire move committee read it won't guarantee a smooth move, but it will guarantee that you won't be blindsided by unanticipated problems.

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A question for you: I'm pitching to publishers an anthology of some of my more interesting and/or provocative pieces, from ExLibris, My Word's Worth, Observing Us, and various magazines, on libraries, librarianship, the internet, and information. I want to know if there's a market for it. If any of you would be interested in buying such a book I would really appreciate knowing that so I could present the information to a publisher.

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We teachers and librarians need to forget the novelty of our computers. After all, they'll be as ordinary to our children as the new cars and electricity were in our lives. We need to find ways to walk around our two-dimensional screens -- ways to take our children back to Prospero's rich three-dimensional island of the mind.

We'll never survive a revolution by pretending it doesn't exist. And we ignore the ongoing revolution at great peril. The only people who can ever preserve those values of the old regime that need preserving are the ones who live at the center of the revolution.

So: Be at the center of the storm. Know what the computers can do and what can be done with them. Then ask yourself what human qualities you want to preserve into the 21st century and what human qualities you are ready to let go of -- for we will have to relinquish some of the old virtues.

We are being changed by the machine. And we are being changed radically. But let us not be changed absolutely,. Let us help one another to draw just a few crucial lines in the sand.

John Lienhard. "Children, Literacy and the Computer." A presentation to the ALA, June 30, 1997.

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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.