Hennen's American Public Library Ratings
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haplr-index.com  6014 Spring Street, Racine, WI  53406   USA

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DatCalmGuy Musings On PubLib

Selected Postings by Thomas J. Hennen Jr to PubLib, frequently posted as: DatCalmGuy.  
Some have also been reprinted in LISNews.  
PubLib is a public library list service moderated by Karen G. Schneider and Sarah Weissman on the Berkeley Digital Library.

[PUBLIB] Oh, to be the demographic again...

Thomas J. Hennen Jr. (thennen@haplr-index.com)
Wed, 17 Nov 1999 04:46:47 -0800 (PST)


George Burns was going to play the Paladium in London on New Years Eve 1999
when he was 100. We rooted, he did not make it. But we all still remember
his haunting song - Oh, to be 18 again. Tonight, this aging Boomer was SO
reminded of that and said, Oh to be the DEMOGRAPHIC again! Here's why.
I talked to my son at the University of Wisconsin on the Internet over
Philips PC video cams attached to our respective computers. We could talk
and see one another. That is a great boon for a father missing his son! But
the connection echoed, the picture was jumpy, and we could not properly
share his term paper on Copernicus because - our ordinary copper phone ine
lacked the bandwidth he had in his fiber optic dorm room. Dad, he said, you
need more bandwidth, go for DSL or cable and we can TALK, and really rock.
Then... my High School senior daughter rocked on to her, is this really
music, I ask you, radio station. Comes the commercial, and it is about,
yes, a REALLY COOL web site. Did you know it is not WWW in the URL? It's
dub,dub,dub! Easier to say, don't you know? So, anyway, this REALLY COOL
dub,dub,dub, dot com site is a library site no less! But it is not her
Dad's library, no, its NETLIBRARY.COM The commercial brags that you have
thousands of the really best books to choose from and its almost as cool as
MP3 or ripping or... And it is only $29.95.
I was reminded that most Americans, when asked by the Benton Foundation
study on libraries, if they would rather have $25 for computer software or
better library services, chose public libraries. BUT, generation Xers chose
software. Since the Benton study is now 3 years old, a lifetime of sorts in
Net Years, perhaps they would now choose Netlibrary.com over their local
public library or even Amazon.com
Then, my daughter had homework. Write what happened the day you were born.
Help, Dad. You can do this on the net, can't you? Yes, but not fast... Ten
minutes into the search, she gave up and went to the REAL library. She
brought home a Timetable of History book to finish her homework.
That was a momentary reprieve, renewing my faith in public libraries. But a
Boomer is not the demographic anymore. AARP is pitching condos, social
security and such at me. My public library little enough at all, and
Amazon.com and Netlibrary.com have other demographics to fry just now.
As George might have said for Y2K, had he played the Palladium, oh to be the
demographic, again!
By the way, as a delicious postscript. I tried to buy a membership in
NetLibrary.com for $29.95 just to see what my demographic group was missing.
It led to one of the happier 404-not found messsges I have ever gotten.


Thomas J. Hennen Jr.
6014 Spring Street
Racine,WI 53406
Voice: 414-886-1625 Fax: 414-886-5424


[PUBLIB] Is ELL the last part of the Tower of Bab?

Thomas J. Hennen Jr. (thennen@haplr-index.com)
Wed, 15 Sep 1999 06:32:57 -0700 (PDT)

As I have read the many postings recently about ELL, AKA Earth's Largest
Library, I was reminded of a quote I saved from the e-magazine PreText. It
is an article called <The Library of Babel: the Dream of Cyberspace as a
Universal Library> by Dominic Gates. The article is long but very
interesting. It is at:
It begins as follows:
In his 1941 short story "The Library of Babel" the Argentinian poet and
fabulist Jorge Luis Borges imagines a universal library, infinite in extent,
containing all human knowledge. Such a library appears at first a
mysteriously realized but beautiful dream. "When it was proclaimed that the
Library contained all books, the first impression was one of extravagant
happiness. All men felt themselves to be the masters of an intact and secret
Soon, however, the dream reveals a nightmarish quality. The Library has no
perceivable order. Somewhere on its numberless shelves sits a catalog that
no one can find; and amidst dizzying arrays of worthless junk countless
false catalogs exist. Human enlightenment is there for the taking, but in
this great intellectual mirage, no one can drink at the fount of knowledge.
The Library, which represents humankind's endless quest for order and
wisdom, becomes, like the Tower of Babel, a symbol of chaos and ignorance.
Later he notes what surely we all recognize in this ELL discussion:
Ironically, the most difficult barrier to realizing the ambition may not be
technological. Instead, a social and political logjam may stem the
futuristic flow. Here again is a confluence of the digital library and the
Internet. For both, the single biggest unresolved problem is lack of
agreement on intellectual property rights.
In 1955, after years of struggle, Borges was appointed to the job of his
dreams, director of the National Library in Buenos Aires. But Borges's
eyesight had been failing since childhood, and by then he was almost
completely blind. "I speak of God's splendid irony," he wrote, "in granting
me at one time 800,000 books and darkness."

Time to go read a library book, and grateful that I still can...

Thomas J. Hennen Jr.
6014 Spring Street
Racine,WI 53406
Voice: 414-886-1625 Fax: 414-886-5424


[PUBLIB] Building Earth's Largest Library by Steve Coffman

Thomas J. Hennen Jr. (thennen@haplr-index.com)
Thu, 19 Aug 1999 18:34:59 -0700 (PDT)

Perhaps I missed it, but on this list there does not seem to have been any
mention of Steve Coffman's article titled Building Earth’s Largest Library:
Driving into the Future. It was published as Volume 7, No. 3, March 1999 of
Searcher magazine. It is also available on the web at:
Coffman's article has gotten so much attention that the magazine did a
special feature in its July/August edition.
Coffman is Director, FYI — County of Los Angeles Public Library and a
serious dreamer. He has a vision of Earth's Largest Library that will make
Amazon.com pale by comparison. He speaks of melding catalogs, circulation
systems, and delivery mechanisms into the type of structure that propelled
amazon.com from nothing to a billion dollar business in just four years.
One senses he agrees with the authors of the 1948 classic book A National
Plan for Library Service. To paraphrase the authors of that work: Make no
small plans, for they have not the magic to stir our souls. 
Mr. Coffman has certainly managed to do some magic that is stirring souls in
the library world. And no one would accuse him of making small plans! The
response has been overwhelming by library professionsls, but Coffman adds
that no fewer than 8 commercial concerns have contacted him with proposals
to implement his vision separate from the library community.
FYI is described on its home page as a fee-based research service of the
County of Los Angeles Public Library. FYI is a unique and affordable
research service designed to provide a full range of business and consumer
information for all your project and day-to-day needs. All research is
conducted by highly-trained professionals and is available in person, by
telephone, by fax or through the Internet. See https://fyi.co.la.ca.us/
I would like to hear some responses by publibbers to his proposals and
dreams. Coffman seems to be not only thinking outside the box, as the
cliche goes, but to have dreamed up whole new boxes to juggle around.

Thomas J. Hennen Jr.
6014 Spring Street
Racine,WI 53406
Voice: 414-886-1625 Fax: 414-886-5424

PUBLIB] Make it so...

Thomas J. Hennen Jr. (thennen@haplr-index.com)
Tue, 23 Feb 1999 05:47:48 -0800 (PST)


I have recently been experimenting with new products called IBM Home Page
Reader and IBM Via Voice. This got me to thinking of Star Trek's Captain
Piccard. With ViaVoice, you can talk to your computer and tell it to
perform commands and type data. I can say, computer, open MS Excel
spreadsheet on Budget 1999. And it does it! At least often it does it,
sometimes it says, I don't understand and makes me say it again.
The IBM Home Page Reader is aimed at the blind or visually impaired web
user. Install the FREE software, point it to a web site and it will TALK to
you about what is on that site! Ordinary text is voiced by a male voice,
and hyperlinks are indicated by a female voice - though undoubtedly in
version two, one will be able to reverse the gender roles. :-)
-- Can't you just HEAR Capt. Piccard saying - Computer. what do Federation
records have to tell us of human speech recognition software in the final
days of millenium two? --
As you might expect, the IBM Home Page Reader has trouble with graphs or
pictures that the web page author did not tag properly. Some pages of some
graphically gorgeous sites are pure gibberish to the visually impaired and
the Home Page Reader.
Some web sites are more accessible to than others. I was pleased that my
former library system site, Lakeshores, and my current library system site,
Waukesha, were readable by IBM Home Page and got good scores from Bobby, the
accessibility monitor at http://www.cast.org/bobby/
As an aside, Bobby is a web-based public service that analyzes web pages for
their accessibility to people with disabilities as well as their
compatibility with various browsers. The analysis of accessibility is based
on the working draft of the W3C's WAI Page Author guidelines with the Page
Authoring Working Group's latest revisions.
On the other hand, my HAPLR-Index.com site with ratings for public
libraries, flunked the accessibility tests. I plan to revise the
http://haplr-index.com site as soon as I can figure out how!
The W3C Group notes that accessibility does not mean minimal page design, it
means thoughtful page design. These guidelines outline procedures for
authors, particularly those using multimedia content, to ensure that the
content and functions provided by those elements are available to all users.
The W3C accessibility group is at:
Should a page reader and voice recognition software be at most, if not all,
publicly accessible internet stations in libraries? Perhaps. We argue for
free speech and open access, but, by our own inertia, blithely FILTER out
those with hearing or sight problems!
As I experimented with IBM Home Page Reader and IBM Via Voice, it occurred
to me that while commuting to work, I could plug in a lap-top and surf the
web while driving! I bet many will be doing that soon enough, but that was
something my wife quickly vetoed. Cell phones, she notes, are now far and
away the leading cause of accidents. Can web browsing be far behind? Guess
I'll go low tech and do audio books for now.
But soon, with a geo positioning system, and better software, I am certain I
will be saying with Capt. Piccard: Computer, make it so! And the computer
in my car will tell me of the happenings in the latter days of millenium
two. Warp speed and more power, Scotty!
Anyone else out there use either product? If so, please let me know if they
work to your satisfication.


Thomas J. Hennen Jr.
6014 Spring Street
Racine,WI 53406
Voice: 414-886-1625 Fax: 414-886-5424


[PUBLIB] HAPLR Index Press coverage/dancing statistical frogs?

Thomas J. Hennen Jr. (thennen@wi.net)
Sun, 14 Feb 1999 18:16:39 -0800 (PST)


Quite a few PubLibbers have been kind enough to send me citations to local
press coverage of library news related to the HAPLR Index. So far I have
citations to at least a dozen articles across the nation. If you have seen
articles on the HAPLR Index ratings of public librarie in local papers,
please let me know. I will be most appreciative.
With this in mind, I have updated the NEWS page at http://haplr-index.com
Follow the link to NEWS, then COVERAGE. The articles from newspapers and
magazines around the country are now hotlinked along with the libraries
Don Napoli at Johnson County also added links to all the libraries named in
the January 1998 American Libraries article as well. What I noticed is
this: in the over 100,000 population category, 95% of the libraries have web
sites! I did a search of a random selection of libraries in this group and
only 40% of them had their own web sites. Twice as many highly ranked
libraries have web sites as do a control group. Is this statististically
signifcant? I am not sure. Any statistically literate PubLibbers out there
to let me know? But speaking of statistically literate, very few
individuals are "going for the juggler" ... at http://haplr-index.com
At the haplr-index.com site, if you click on the juggler, you will get to
the Dancing Statistical Frog joke page. There you have the chance to enter
the Ides of March Dancing Frog contest and win a free HAPLR Index "My
Library is the Best" T-shirt!

Thomas J. Hennen Jr.
6014 Spring Street
Racine,WI 53406
Voice: 414-886-1625 Fax: 414-886-5424


[PUBLIB] sell phones, buy time?

Thomas J. Hennen Jr. (thennen@wi.net)
Sun, 14 Feb 1999 18:16:25 -0800 (PST)


As I read the January issue of Wired magazine, I was reminded of the recent
Publib thread on the perceived insulting of religions. The potentially
offensive title of the Wired magazine article is: Phone Sects. To my way of
thinking, only that title is potentially offensive. The rest of the article
is a very enlightening look at the Amish community's method of defining
APPROPRIATE uses of technology. It seems there is a lesson for our library
community to learn from the Amish approach to technology.
Perhaps like most people, I believed that the Amish simply rejected all 20th
century technology and were, as Vonnegut might have said, stuck in time.
But this is far from the truth. The Amish believe that it is important to
adopt only those technologies that do not threaten to diminish their faith
community. Cars would lead to diminishing the value of neighbors and
neighborhoods, so they are shunned in favor of buggies. Electricity would
make them dependent on the outside world, so it can only be used if it is
self-generated rather than off the power grid - a real plus in the Y2K
scenario :-)
On the one hand, phones would break up family or business conversations -
something the rest of us know to be all too true! But, add the Amish, like
Tevia in Fiddler on the Roof, on the OTHER hand phones can save lives in an
emergency. So by a complicated communal process known as the Ordnung, the
community has banned phones from the home, but not the farm. Amish phones
are placed out in the field, often as not in a shed; frequently it is
attached to the outhouse! Phones are there for emergencies but not for
interrupting family conversation. Since few want to wait in the outhouse
for calls, they use battery-operated answering machines! Now that cell
phones are here, they can be, and are used - but only in the field, never
the home or office.
The author compares the Ordnung to the communal spirit that built a
consensus-based set of rules for the Internet in its early days- netiquette
and all the attending values of the pioneering days of the net. The author
laments that rapid expansion of the net, HTML, SHTML, JAVA, cascading style
sheets, yada, yada - this and so much more, have swamped our ability to pick
and choose wisely.
For over a century the American public library has adapted successive waves
of technology - from the paperback to the phonograph record to the videotape
and now the Internet. As we rush headlong into the Internet and all the
places the new commercialized net is taking us, it seems well to take a page
from the Amish book, and at least ask ourselves from time to time whether we
are controlling the technology or it is controlling us.
Will there be life after the Internet? I have no doubt, although I cannot
imagine what it will be. Can we balance the needs of our customers with the
financial demands of pay-as-you-go Internet? What about balancing community
demands for filters with needs for free speech? And what of books and
bytes - can we make tear down the iron curtain between them? The tower of
Babel rises swiftly as the Internet blithely ignores the archiving and
cataloging functions that librarians know to be crucial to the wise
collection and storage of data. Semantic interoperability is crucial to the
future of our profession, no? Maybe it is just listening to audiobooks in
the car while commuting to a new job and then tuning into NPR on Internet
radio on my computer at home that got me to thinking about all this.
But the Amish may have taught me that if I buy a cell phone I sell my time
if not my soul, and that in libraries as in life, we should take care that
we control technology or it will control us.


Thomas J. Hennen Jr.
6014 Spring Street
Racine,WI 53406
Voice: 414-886-1625 Fax: 414-886-5424


[PUBLIB] haplr-index.com

Thomas J. Hennen Jr. (thennen@wi.net)
Mon, 18 Jan 1999 18:39:05 -0800 (PST)


About a month ago there was a premature announcement in this list of my
HAPLR Index web site. At the time I noted that I was still developing the
site and would announce it here when it was ready to go. It is now ready,
although not as completely ready as I had hoped. It still lacks a search
engine that will search the entire site, so as an aside, I would appreciate
any advice from list members on how to do this.
The HAPLR Index is featured in the January 1999 issue of American Libraries
magazine, page 72-76. The Index uses data provided by 9,000 public
libraries in the United States to create comparative rankings. The
comparisons are in broad population categories with breaks at 2,000; 10,000;
and 100,000. The HAPLR Index is similar to an ACT or SAT score with a
theoretical minimum of 1 and a maximum of 1,000, although most libraries
score between 260 and 730.
The HAPLR Index has received a lot of attention by newspapers, magazines and
TV stations throughout the country. An Ohio wire service noted that "Ohio
libraries sizzle!" In Virginia the Loudon County Library's director was
happy to be able to lead into a TV interview with their top ranking rather
than yet another statement on their Internet filtering lawsuit. The St.
Louis Post Dispatch quotes St. Charles County Library Director Carl
Sandstedt as saying: "It's not the bricks and mortar, it's the staff and
materials that matter." He adds, "The underlying data have been there for
years. It's about time they rated libraries." The Director of the Twinsburg
Public Library in Ohio, Karen Tschudy, notes: "You always believe your
library is among the best. It's nice to see somebody prove it. We're very
proud." In the Kansas City Star, Mona Carmack of the Johnson County Library
says: "My first reaction was, 'How did they figure that?' I am very pleased
because it was purely statistical."
LJ Digital noted that critics of the Index fault it for focusing too much on
circulation and traditional services rather than the newer electronic
services and the Internet. I agree and hope that the necessary national
data will be available for future editions of the HAPLR Index. LJ Digital
also noted that the index did not include New York Public Library. That
surprised me, as I had remembered differently, so I checked. The problem
was filing rules, somehow appropriate for a library site, don't you think?
The data used for the index are from the Federal-State Cooperative System.
New York Public Library chose to file its data under THE New York Public
Library, consequently FSCS filed it under the letter T for THE rather than
the letter N for New! That sort of emphasizes why I am still looking for a
good search tool for this site with 9,000 libraries listed. :-) There are a
lot of libraries named for individuals rather than the city they are in and
navigation is tough as a result.
I will be interested in your comments about the site at:


Thomas J. Hennen Jr.
6014 Spring Street
Racine,WI  53406
Voice: 414-886-1625  Fax: 414-886-5424


[PUBLIB:9481] Circulation lifeblood

Thomas J. Hennen Jr. (thennen@wi.net)
Sat, 7 Mar 1998 09:58:44 -0800

Circulation is the lifeblood of the body we know as the public library,
librarians are its heart, and users are is its soul. The traditional
definition of death was that when the heart stops working, blood stops
flowing and the soul leaves the body. I am investigating the challenges
we face in defining and tracking library circulation. I am looking for
two types of information.
First, I seek examples of the varieties of ways that traditional print
circulation counts vary. For instance, circulation varies because of
the number of days in the circulation period or the number of renewals
allowed and counted. Libraries have been known to add some in-house
use, like newspaper reading, to circulation statistics. The counts for
bound volumes of magazines, vertical file materials, multi-volume A/V
materials, and less traditional materials like puppets and games are
often sources of concern. A shorthand way of asking is, do you have good
examples of interesting fudge factors that libraries have used to
inflate their circulation data?
Secondly, I am looking for simple and reliable methods for tracking all
the new library use that is happening relating to computer use,
including Internet use. I also wonder about electronic fudge factors in
our electronic data collection. I continue to hear anecdotal evidence
that librarians are inclined to add new measurements to traditional
circulation counts. We are spending increasing amounts on the Internet
and electronic sources but have little to count there. Much of the
spending is causing print circulation to decline, adding to our need to
count new items. But do we count hits on a web page and create inflated
click streams? Is it hours a user spent at the workstation, regardless
of application involved that we will count? Just how many angels can we
get to dance on the head of this new silicon pin?
In some ways, what I am seeking, is PubLib reader examples of fat and
cholesterol in the circulation lifeblood of public libraries. If you
have particularly egregious examples of print or electronic circulation
fudging, you may wish to reply directly rather than through the list. I
will use discretion.
Thomas J. Hennen Jr., Lakeshores Library System Administrator
email: thennen@wi.net
voice: 414-636-9211  fax:  414-636-3710
HomePage:  http://ftp.wi.net/~thennen/


[PUBLIB] When the tree falls, when the phone rings...

Thomas J. Hennen Jr. (thennen@haplr-index.com)
Fri, 2 Jun 2000 19:53:35 -0700 (PDT)

The title sounds like a latter day parody of Sound of Music, but the related
question is serious. Aquinas asked: If a tree falls in forest with none to
hear, is there a sound? Today that question is a cliche where once it was
profound, but if a phone STOPS ringing in the desert because of the Net, is
there silence?
Tom Brokaw reported on the NBC Nightly News recently as follows:
Remember earlier this spring, when we introduced you to a telephone booth in
the middle of nowhere in California's Mojave Desert? Its number had gotten
onto the Internet and people called in from around the world. Well, the line
now is officially dead. But the legend lives on.
For more see:
If you call the number of that phone in the desert, you will get the sound
of a phone ringing on your end. That is what happens for any phone you call
where the customer has pulled the phone line from the jack. This is what the
telcos have ruled for some obscure reason.
I recently took a trial subscription to a service that traces broken links
in my HAPLR library rating web site. I was astonished at how many of the
links I had put on my site now led to nowhere where once there had been a
page. I guess I should not have been surprised considering that the average
shelf life of a web page is numbered in days. There are a lot of links to
repair. Am I my own webmaster or webmonster?
Then I noticed that there was a possibility of two other things having
happened. First, ET may not have called home yet, but he could have been at
my site :-) Second, the very fact of these broken links may have INCREASED
my site traffic.
How did the broken links increase traffic? Well, simple, the service
checking for dead links was counted by my hit counter service just as it
would any other user.
When I first started checking the statistics, I was excited that on a good
week I was getting 10,000 "hits." That was until I realized that the hits
being counted included search engine "spiders" that prowl the whole site to
index it - adding a huge number of false hits. Then I found that images
count as well as text. A page with text and one image counts as two hits.
Guess how many hits you get when you have just 5 small images to enhance the
look of a page?
And the broken links? Well they count too! They may be frustrating to the
customer, but if all I wanted to keep the traffic count high, I would leave
in the broken links! Eventually I hope to include use of electronic and
internet sources in the HAPLR public library rating system. I plan to bear
these facts in mind.
So what about ET, the extra terrestrial then? Well because of the
misleading nature of "hits" I decided to start looking at unique users,
another item provided in my weekly statistics. This is a clearer view of
actual users, only about a tenth of the number of hits, and therefore more
The service records hits by country of origin when that is available. Only
54% of HAPLR hits are identifiable as from the U.S. This past week there
were visitors from 21 countries. I wonder what visitors from the United
Arab Emirates of the Russian Federation want with the HAPLR ratings. But it
is the 1707 hits from "unknown" that makes me wonder about ET, of course.
:-) For information on HAPLR statistics for last week see:
Perhaps ET, having made it home, is tried to call again, and, dialing a
wrong number, the phone is still ringing in the desert with none to hear!
So, having clicked on one too many dead links, he decided to forgo future

Posted simultaneously on the PubLib and PubLibNet listservs and LISNEWS.COM
by datcalmguy otherwise known as:

Thomas J. Hennen Jr.
6014 Spring Street
Racine,WI 53406
Voice: 262-886-1625 Fax: 262-886-5424


[PUBLIB:7503] Let a thousand rating schemes bloom?

Thomas J. Hennen Jr. (thennen@wi.net)
Fri, 12 Dec 1997 06:00:00 -0800


What will the anti-filter forces have to say about filters that search
FOR objectionable materials? Apparently such a product is coming to a
store near you next month by the same company that filters out
Remember Net Shepherd (http://family.netshepherd.com/) the Company that
EPIC accused of having faulty family friendly filters (say that fast
three times)? See PUBLIB Digest 335 for details on the EPIC vs Net
Shepherd debate. Net Shepherd has just announced to their " third party
raters" that they are now out of the rating business! Up until Tuesday,
they were paying volunteers a penny a site to rate them for age
appropriateness, quality (hey there is good porn and bad porn, you
know), trustworthiness (I kid you not), and topics.
They are no longer assigning sites randomly to volunteers, meaning, I
guess, that people will have to find pornography and other objectionable
sites by themselves without any help. At least, that is, until there
new service is unveiled next month.
All this does not apparently mean that they are discontinuing the
(faultless?) family friendly filter at Net Shepherd, just the use of
paid informants to rate the sites. Apparently they need a fresh source
of capital before continuing to use the PICS system to do third party
rating. I wonder why always want to write third rate partying?
Says the company:
"We have succeeded in proving that rating Internet content using a
community of people to review and submit document ratings can work very
effectively. However, the challenge of turning this concept into a
viable self-sustaining business still remains. We believe that with
sufficient investment, partnerships and hard work this approach to
reviewing and rating Internet content can pay off not only in a
profitable business, but also in a safer and more productive place for
everyone. But until we do find a partner who is able to help us move
forward, we have decided to temporarily suspend our daily rating
efforts. This means that effective immediately we will not be providing
URLs for you to review and rate and will not be awarding points for URLs
you ask for."
[W]e are encouraging you to maintain your membership and to leave the
Ijirak software installed on your computer so that we may focus on our
other business, New Media Research. New media research is a growing
business opportunity on the Internet. It is the business of collecting
and selling information about what people are doing on the Web. This is
an extremely important part of the growing commerce of the Internet
today and is no different then Audience Research that has been conducted
for Radio and TV for decades.
What does one get? Free websites, free email, chat rooms of like minded
"explorers," and other opportunities. These opportunities include a
chance to money-making surveys and focus groups sponsored by companies
that "do business on the net." The company is also "currently working
on an exciting new product that we will be releasing in January of next
year. This product will tell you where the 'Nets current hot spots are.
At any instant you will know where the crowds are and will be able to go
to the hottest sites and pages on the Internet when they are hot!"
There may be as more money to be made in making filters for adult
content than there is for making family friendly filters.
The Blue Chip players (Disney, Microsoft, etc) have discovered the green
hue of what the Clinton Administration is calling the "E-Chip," - third
party rating schemes based on the PICS standard. I guess it should be
no surprise that smaller companies like Net Shepherd would do so as
Apparently free enterprise will let a thousand rating schemes bloom.
Thomas J. Hennen Jr., Lakeshores Library System Administrator
email: thennen@wi.net
voice: 414-636-9211  fax:  414-636-3710
HomePage:  http://ftp.wi.net/~thennen/

 [PUBLIB:7694] Virtual Humans and personal limits

PUBLIB (plib2@sunsite.berkeley.EDU)
Sat, 20 Dec 1997 13:31:29 -0800


Writing in PUBLIB Digest 349, Jean Armour Polly asked an interesting set 
of questions about the librarians=92 personal limits regarding requests 
for information.  I found the responses thoughtful and instructive as 
well.  One response included is that child pornography is always illegal 
because the children are being illegally treated.  The First Amendment 
purists on the ACLU/ALA OIF end of the spectrum often cite this.   It 
appears to be their limit and the legality is their refuge.  Of late, I 
have been wondering what will happen to this refuge when the use of 
VIRTUAL humans has been further perfected. 
Virtual humans are realistically modeled three dimensional 
representations that can assume human-looking posture and motion.  They 
can also interact realistically and in real time with other entities 
within their computer universe. 
Right now the state of the art in the use of virtual humans is quite 
primitive, but the Screen Actor=92s Guild, fearing the use of 
synthespians, has already taken note and started using the issue in 
negotiations. A virtual Andre Agassi plays tennis on a Nike commercial. 
The participants at the Virtual Humans 2 conference in LA this past June 
heard from VR pioneer Nadia Thalmann, a professor at the University of 
Geneva. Thalmann is famous for her Virtual Marilyn Monroe.  One can 
already find sites for such virtual humans as Donna Matrix.  How long 
will it be before the pedophiles get on board?  They may already be 
there for all I know. 
There is more than a virtual pot of gold at the end of this rainbow, so 
you can bet that there will be many developers of virtual humans.  Will 
the ALA OIF and ACLU defend a future Virtual PedXXX site? 



Thomas J. Hennen Jr., Lakeshores Library System Administrator
email: thennen@wi.net
voice: 414-636-9211  fax:  414-636-3710
HomePage:  http://ftp.wi.net/~thennen/

[PUBLIB:7350] EPIC report on Net Shepherd's "Faulty" "Family Friendly" Filter

Thomas J. Hennen Jr. (thennen@wi.net)
Fri, 5 Dec 1997 12:10:16 -0800


EPIC, the Electronic Privacy Information Center,
(http://www2.epic.org/reports/filter-report.html) accuses a new Internet
filter designed to block pornography from viewing by children of being
faulty. It asserts that Net Shepherd, a self described "family
friendly" filter service, (http://family.netshepherd.com/) blocks 99
percent of the information that children would find useful. Don Woods
of the ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom recommended the EPIC report to
PubLib in his posting of December 1, 1997. It is a good thing that the
report is not recommended by the ALA Office of Research, because the
"Faulty Filters" reports appears to use some very faulty figures.
Disraeli said that there are three kinds of lies - lies, damned lies and
statistics. Both sides in this one seem to have chosen statistics.
EPIC accuses Net Shepherd of blocking 99 percent of content. Net
Shepherd asserts that it has rated 97 percent of the web sites on the
Neither EPIC nor Net Shepherd dealt with the important issue of "who
will watch the watchers." Many observers fear the consequences of
government censorship like that proposed in the Communications Decency
Act, but the type of "third party" internet community rating based on
the PICS standard (http://www.w3.org/PICS/) that Net Shepherd uses has
some potential problems as well.
The issue seems to be this: do we want no censorship, government
censorship, or privatized censorship. The political reality is that the
first choice may not be possible, and that the Clinton administration
and most of the computer industry heavyweights, like Disney and
Microsoft, are opting for privatized censorship. It is even being
called the E-chip to compare to the vaunted V-chip for TV. A recent
article in the Internet Legal Practice Newsletter titled "Were We Wrong
About the CDA?" argues that while no censorship would be best, but
government censorship may be better than private industry censorship.
It is at http://www.collegehill.com/ilp-news/
If true, EPIC's accusation of 99 percent losses with a filter would be
troubling. It appears, however, that it could be the result of either
willful misrepresentation by EPIC, or the result of EPIC's fundamental
misunderstanding of search engines. Alta Vista, the search engine that
has partnered with Net Shepherd, routinely returns hundreds, if not
thousands of hits on general searches of the kind that EPIC set it to
work on. Searches like this in Alta Vista are akin to a library catalog
that would present not just every title of a book but every subject
heading, note, serial statement, as well as the myriad of other details
available in a MARC record. That would be the proverbial "more than I
wanted to know" of every reference 101 course.
Net Shepherd has responded with some clarifications that appear to be
equally disingenuous. Net Shepherd insists that EPIC knew or should have
known that it uses only the first 200 hundred hits from Alta Vista to
get around the "more than they want to know" problem. Net Shepherd
further asserts that by having rated 1.5 million web pages they have
covered 97 percent of the English language web pages, although they
fudge this figure by saying that 500,000 of those pages are home pages
which can stand as proxies for the entire site. It's hard to say how
many pages there are out there, but this is clearly too low. At least
one reliable estimate that I have seen puts the current number of web
sites at 100 million.
Anyone who wants more on this should look at the Internet Filter
Assessment Project at http://www.bluehighways.com/tifap/
Karen G. Schneider, who also manages this list serve, managed the 1997
project. The project examined Internet, content filters including Net
Shepherd, from a librarian's point of view. Several dozen librarians
from around the world participated. Some are filter proponents; some are
not. All believe you don't know a tool until you test it. The book is
also available from Neal Schuman for $49.95. This is not an ad, Karen
had nothing to do with this comment, it simply seemed relevant.
Thomas J. Hennen Jr., Lakeshores Library System Administrator
email: thennen@wi.net
voice: 414-636-9211  fax:  414-636-3710
HomePage:  http://ftp.wi.net/~thennen/

 [PUBLIB] Live reference, theoretical librarian

Thomas J. Hennen Jr. (thennen@haplr-index.com)
Thu, 17 Aug 2000 06:43:29 -0700 (PDT)

Writing in Topic 2 of PubLib Digest 1368, Gerry McKiernan, Theoretical
Librarian at Iowa State noted 3 live reference sites and asked if there are
other lists of library 'real-time' reference services, adding that he'd
appreciate learning about them.
I subscribe to a list serv and information service at e-groups at:
The live reference database includes the following:
24/7 Live Reference Project : This is a project developed by Susan McGlamery
and Steve Coffman in southern California serving a number of area libraries
and looking to expand based on the CISCO Webline project. Take a look!
http://www.247ref.org .
Alliance Library System Live Librarian : Electronic resources help desk
using Live Person on several of the ALS pages. Contact: Mary Carol Lindbloom
or Felicia Sworsky, mlindblm@darkstar.rsa.lib.il.us or
Correct URL for UNT Online Ref. Desk : Univ. of North Texas Libs. Online
Reference Help Desk
LSSI Virtual Library Live Reference Project : LSSI is debuting its new Live
Reference product based on egain at ALA! A number of libraries have already
signed up for this product which Steve Coffman has developed. Take a look!
Library Web-Based OPACS :
Open Directory : Set up your own link to the Open Directory and earn
Publishers' Catalogues Home Page : Links to publishers worldwide
RRChat : Chat reference service provided by the Florida Distance Learning
Reference & Referral Center, using Conference Room Professional Edition from
WebMaster (similar to Univ. of North Texas). Contact: Rachel Viggiano,
Talk to a Librarian : "Talk" to a Librarian is a new service created by the
SUNY Morrisville library to allow people outside of the library to "talk"
interactively online to a librarian. It uses AOL Instant Messenger. Response
time is faster than e-mail.For Norwich campus students and faculty , allows
them to reach a reference librarian when one isn't available at Norwich.
University of North Texas, Online Reference Help Desk : August 15, 2000.
The UNT Online Reference Help Desk has moved. The Online Reference Help Desk
has been in existence since May 1999.
Web-based Reference Services : Bibliography and webliography posted by
Peggy Hadid at Multnomah County Library
Gerry, I am intrigued. Just what is a theoretical librarian?

Thomas J. Hennen Jr.
Voice: 262-886-1625
Fax: 262-886-5424
6014 Spring Street
Racine, WI 53406

PUBLIB] Corporate Underwriting

Thomas J. Hennen Jr. (thennen@haplr-index.com)
Mon, 31 Jul 2000 17:59:29 -0700 (PDT)


Writing as topic 6 in PubLib on 29 Jul 2000, Mary Ann Meyers responded to my
query about corporate underwriting. She noted that ToysR Us cut funding to
ALA because of Dr. Laura, adding that she would worry about getting too cozy
and comfortable with commercial concerns that might leave you in the lurch
if you choose professional ethics/the public interest over the corporation's
ethical concerns/commercial interests. She further notes that they call it
"Corporate funding for programming" on public radio, wondiering if it is
because public radio, like public television, had its funding sliced by
Congress by political interests that did not approve of the programs shown
and thought the "private sector" could do it better. It seems, she laments
that everything is for sale in today's United States. Really, I mean
really--it wasn't always that way.
On the point about being left in the lurch, by private business that does
not like what you do, well it is easy to cite scores of city councils,
library boards and even state legislatiures that use the power of the purse
strings to punish library behavior. Both private and public can and do seek
to restrain the behavior of libraries and librarians - that is the real
world in which we live. In fact Meyers notes this very fact when noting
that some in Congress sought to punish public radio for content by forcing
it to do fund raising.
To quote Macbeth, we are so steeped in blood, it is easier to go forward ere
we return.
Naming rights for libraries and rooms therein are as old as the American
public library. Our history is replete with corporate giving that some would
question. How many fewer libraries would there be without Carnegie's
largesse? Yet many in the Labor movement at the turn of the last century
considered him a mass murderer for his actions during the Homestead Strike
of 1892. How many Gates computers in libraries are running Linux or
Netscape? But few object to the Gates foundation money for libraries.
Ronald McDonald is becoming a mainstay at childrens programs nationwide.
Will our young users be better or worse off if we ban Ronald for fear that
Dr. Laura will discover Harry Potter and Arch a brow?
I only got two responses to my original request for information on policies,
experience and cautions at libraries that have corporate or private sponsors
or partners. Are there more?


Thomas J. Hennen Jr.
Voice: 262-886-1625
Fax: 262-886-5424
6014 Spring Street
Racine, WI 53406

PUBLIB] verbing down the info hwy - ersatz (fwd)

PUBLIB (plib2@sunsite.berkeley.edu)
Thu, 22 Jun 2000 20:38:33 -0700 (PDT)

I am guilty too, Karen. Used the o word writing of the tao of librarian
hiring on 15 June. As some learned, when the language police object, stick
flowers in their gun barrels, no? Hence some florid prose.
as t.s. eliot said before he obsolesced: "I grow old I grow old, I shall
wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled..."
After receiving a Minute issued by a civil servant, objecting to the ending
of a sentence with a preposition and the use of a dangling participle in
official documents, Churchill red pencilled in the margin: "This is the sort
of pedantry up with which I will not put."
Finally, as James Joyce, a user of obsolesced language if ever the was one,
once may or may not have said of Hamlet: He proved by algebra that he
himself was his own grandfather.
This is e-discourse, not high tea, but it's always fun.

datcalmguy (an ersatz word too, of course...)

Thomas J. Hennen Jr.
6014 Spring Street
Racine,WI 53406
Voice: 262-886-1625 Fax: 362-886-5424

 [PUBLIB] Closing the Net Down Under (fwd)

PUBLIB (plib2@sunsite.berkeley.edu)
Fri, 28 Apr 2000 18:43:45 -0700 (PDT)


According to Wired magazine online, since January 1, the Australian
Broadcasting Authority has had the power to legally force Australian
Internet content hosts to take down material that is deemed offensive.
In the first three months of operation, just 124 complaints were received.
The article notes that to be an estimated Australian complaint rate of less
than 8 thousandths of a percent of Australian Internet traffic. The article
goes on to note that the Internet is so broad and multifaceted that people
merely bypass what they don't want to see.
"It's just like real life. A vegetarian doesn't go into a butcher shop, and
a born again Christian doesn't go into an adult bookshop," says an
Australian spokesman for the Eros Foundation, Australia's adult goods and
services industry.


Thomas J. Hennen Jr.
6014 Spring Street
Racine,WI 53406
Voice: 414-886-1625 Fax: 414-886-5424


 [PUBLIB] The Grassy Knoll in Cyberspace? (fwd)

PUBLIB (plib2@sunsite.berkeley.edu)
Sun, 7 May 2000 18:19:17 -0700 (PDT)



I have been thinking for a bit that a virus might stop, or at least slow
down, the use of Napster on college campuses. Napster, the music copying
site has taken the college set by storm and unnerved the CD music business
to no end. It allows nearly unlimited copying of recorded music on MP3
players. See: http://www.napster.com/
Then we get the Love Bug virus, the most quickly disseminated virus in Net
history. A college student in Manila was probably responsible says the
mainstream press. But apparently the underground net is abuzz with
alternative conspiracies to explain the virus. See:
Metallica, the heavy metal rock band with a fierce devotion to intellectual
property rights, so goes the rumor, hired a stringer to attack MP3 files.
They couldn't make it too obvious, so the virus goes after other files as
well MP3s says the rumor.
I talked to my college student son about the rumor; proud that I was "in the
loop." Dad, he said, Wired News is not a very reliable news source, you
know. You're a librarian, you should know that! 00oo..
Are there no conspiracies in cyberspace then? And, I wondered, no open
windows near the grassy knoll? ;-)
So what does such a virus do to the Docster ILL for periodicals proposal?
See: http://www.haplr-index.com/docster.htm
The four letter L word we can no longer say in e-mail,


Thomas J. Hennen Jr.
6014 Spring Street
Racine,WI 53406
Voice: 414-886-1625 Fax: 414-886-5424

 [PUBLIB:7454] Technology Plan

Thomas J. Hennen Jr. (thennen@wi.net)
Wed, 10 Dec 1997 05:24:52 -0800


Writing in PUBLIB:7441 technology plan Terry Velasquez of West Wyandotte
Library, Kansas City, asks "if anyone has a written "technology plan"
that they are willing to share." Lakeshores Library System is a
federated system. The system plan is posted at:
We have also posted a model plan for individual public libraries. This
requires a fair amount of filling in of local information, of course.
The template is designed so that Section 2, if completed with your local
data, should, we hope, satisfy all requirements for the Federal
Communications Commission's Universal Service Fund, the so called
E-rate. It is at:
On Monday, December 15, the library directors in our area are getting
together to have a pizza party and technolgy writing cram session - you
know like the all night study sessions from school days, only during the
day. We are a bit far from Kansas City, or I would urge you to join us
We are all aiming to get plans to library boards in January so as to
qualify for the E-rate when they open the application "window" (is that
an ad even without the tm? :-) The window opens about January 15 stays
open for, I think, 45 days. Qualifying Public Libraries get as much as
90% discount for internet related services. For links on the E-rate,
follow the appropriate links at the Wisconsin state library site at:

Thomas J. Hennen Jr., Lakeshores Library System Administrator
email: thennen@wi.net
voice: 414-636-9211 fax: 414-636-3710
HomePage: http://ftp.wi.net/~thennen/

 [PUBLIB] The questia question

Thomas J. Hennen Jr. (thennen@haplr-index.com)
Mon, 19 Jun 2000 18:52:04 -0700 (PDT)



First NetLibrary.com now questia. E-texts in abbundance to provide new
challenges to public libraries.

Questia is building an online service to provide access to the full text of
hundreds of thousands of books, journals and periodicals, as well as tools
to easily use this information. Their primary market appears to be liberal
arts undergraduates that prefer the net to the physical library and have
amounts of money to burn. As an after thought, they may market to
libraries, both public and academic.
Questia is slated for opening in 2001. Questia expects to have 50,000
volumes digitized in early 2001 and is projected to have over 250,000 within
three years. According to them, that’s greater than the number of volumes
in over 80 percent of all academic libraries in the United States.
The Questia interface will allow students to search, access and interact
with thousands of important books and journals from anywhere: from home,
from the computer lab or anywhere else they connect to the Internet. The
Questia service will have, they say the most valued volumes in the liberal
arts from the 20th and 21st centuries (not including textbooks).
Anyone will be able to search Questia at no cost to locate books and
journals. But to experience the ease and convenience of online viewing of
full text and the unique research tools of the Questia service, users will
need to subscribe. The collection will be searchable by a word, phrase or

Questia says it will allow simultaneous access by an unlimited number of
people to a given book at any given time. It will also allow the ability to
view, copy and paste text from any page of any book. It will also have
tools that allow you to compose and save papers online.
The Questia search function, they add, is to be offered to all at no charge.
It will allow librarians or professors to find the exact volumes and pages
that can answer a student’s question. Because the research process is more
efficient and less cumbersome.http://www.questia.com/index.html
Are we in libraries ready for this new century? I still think the
challenges make it a great time to be a librarian!


Thomas J. Hennen Jr.
6014 Spring Street
Racine,WI 53406
Voice: 414-886-1625 Fax: 414-886-5424

 [PUBLIB] Real hardware store, real library? a wrenching experience

Thomas J. Hennen Jr. (thennen@haplr-index.com)
Tue, 6 Jun 2000 21:42:07 -0700 (PDT)


I was busy Saturday, so my wife went to the hardware store for me. She was
going to get this special wrench I needed but couldn't name, so I described
it for her. She went to one of those mega stores, you know, a Barnes and
Noble for tools. She came back and said, they didn't have the wrench I
wanted- or at least the kid who tried to help didn't think so. She guessed
that I would have to go to a REAL HARDWARE STORE. Unfortunately the REAL
Hardware Store in our neighborhood closed down and the only other one in
town is all the way across town.
A real hardware store has more than just tools and hardware, of course. It
is a source of expertise and advice on all those household projects that we
weekend warriors attempt. They don't have unknowledgeble clerks with
Metallica t-shirts that know more about MP-3s than socket sets. They have
people who can help you with getting that plumbing project right or finding
the right size carriage bolt. That type of hardware store seems to be
quickly fading as the mega stores take over and few will mind when they get
amazonned, I would guess.
When I lived in Minnesota, I used to go to the local hardware store just to
shoot the breeze. I was happy to pay more because the owner was so friendly
and knowledgeable. If you are ever in St. James, MN, go to the Coast to
Coast store and see for yourself. The store is at: 423 1st Ave S St James,
MN (507) 375-4151 Sorry, no URL, I guess they are too busy serving people!
As with hardware, so with libraries? Perhaps. Will I be able to keep going
to a real library, where real people with real experience can help? Please
God, make it so.
Its not just the books and information, its the people helping people that
make a library. The net is important and work it we must, but if its all
virtual, well, it will be a very wrenching experience.

Posted at LISNews.com as well.

Thomas J. Hennen Jr.
6014 Spring Street
Racine,WI 53406
Voice: 414-886-1625 Fax: 414-886-5424

 [PUBLIB] Closing the Net Down Under (fwd)

PUBLIB (plib2@sunsite.berkeley.edu)
Fri, 28 Apr 2000 18:43:45 -0700 (PDT)

According to Wired magazine online, since January 1, the Australian
Broadcasting Authority has had the power to legally force Australian
Internet content hosts to take down material that is deemed offensive.
In the first three months of operation, just 124 complaints were received.
The article notes that to be an estimated Australian complaint rate of less
than 8 thousandths of a percent of Australian Internet traffic. The article
goes on to note that the Internet is so broad and multifaceted that people
merely bypass what they don't want to see.
"It's just like real life. A vegetarian doesn't go into a butcher shop, and
a born again Christian doesn't go into an adult bookshop," says an
Australian spokesman for the Eros Foundation, Australia's adult goods and
services industry.


Thomas J. Hennen Jr.
6014 Spring Street
Racine,WI 53406
Voice: 414-886-1625 Fax: 414-886-5424

 [PUBLIB] Docster: Earth's Most Distibuted Library?

Thomas J. Hennen Jr. (thennen@haplr-index.com)
Tue, 25 Apr 2000 19:24:34 -0700 (PDT)


Napster, the music copying site has taken the college set by storm and
unnerved the CD music business to no end. See:
Napster has been described as the first "killer ap" since the web browser.
Hollywood and Nashville are taking notice, are we? See one view at:
Now there is a proposal from oss4lib for Docster for ILL of journal articles
that is sure to get the legal types to sit up and take notice. The kernel
of the idea is a bit like OCLC had for cataloging or like a lot of other
automated systems since: write once, read many times. The author, Dan
Chudnov, has a brilliant proposal for massively distributed journal articles
that are currently being photocopied again and again throughtout the library
world. He proposes copyright compliance, privacy for users, and a host of
other things that will strike any librarian as needful. Steve, Karen and
Steve, this has to be an adjunct to the Earth's Largest Library- perhaps the
earth's most distributed library?
Try this for one quote and then see the article:
"unny how napster doesn't care about dublin core or MARC. It doesn't need a
circulation module. It doesn't even matter what kind of computer you have,
as long as you have a working client and decent bandwidth. Think of the
implications of applying this model in our libraries. With all the advances
in standardization of e-print archives and such (see the Open Archives
initiative), we already have high hopes about the future of online
publishing. With that solved, maybe the napster model could help us deal
with our favorite legacy format: bound journals."
See the proposal for Docster at:
oss4lib is Open source systems for libraries. Their mission is to cultivate
the collaborative power of open source software engineering to build better
and free systems for use in libraries. They maintain a listing of free
software and systems designed for libraries and track news about project
updates or related issues of interest. They are mostly from Yale University.
The box outside of which we must think is a real shape shifter, no?


Thomas J. Hennen Jr.
6014 Spring Street
Racine,WI 53406
Voice: 414-886-1625 Fax: 414-886-5424

 [PUBLIB] e-vanity fare?

Thomas J. Hennen Jr. (thennen@haplr-index.com)
Sun, 23 Apr 2000 21:02:29 -0700 (PDT)

Most libraries have a policy regarding the inclusion of self-published or
vanity press works. But what of vanity e-books?M.J. Rose has a relavant
piece in Wired magazine titled E-Books for Writers, Not Readers. It is at:
He notes that “while 5 percent of the survey respondents said they bought
Stephen King's e-book, Riding the Bullet, less than 1 percent claim to
actually have read it.” So was the shooter firing blanks, one wonders? The
survey was by the Book Report Network at:
http://www.bookreporter.com/brc/index.aspRose goes on to note that there are over 24 million writers in the United
States but less than 5 percent have been published. Companies such as
Xlibris, iUniverse, and Mightywords are wooing the other 95 percent, often
as not to what used to be called vanity publishing. And the public library
issues are thought provoking, indeed.
I am reminded of Richard Brautigan’s Library for Books Nobody Wants. The
concept is in his book, The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966. New York:
Simon and Schuster, 1971. The book is out of print, and only available in
libraries :-) And, as an aside, how is this for the great Amazon.com as
clueless? Though it is out of print, they offer two options - e-Bay, natch,
but also other "historical romances!" Kerouac, Ginsberg and Brautigan would
have gotten a great HOWL out of that! I saw the best dot coms of my
generation destroyed by... ah well.Bruatigan's main character was a librarian at a mythical library. The
library was at at 3150 Sacramento Street in San Francisco. At this library
anyone who wrote a book could add it to the shelves. Books were accepted in
any form. There was no Dewey Decimal arrangement, nor any other order to the
library. The author alone decides on which shelf the book should be.
Brautigan is rumored to have self-published a work in 1968 entitled "The San
Francisco Library: A Publishing House." No more than 10 copies are thought
to exist. http://www.riza.com/richard/library.shtml
Brautigan was at one time a best selling beat/hippie author. Early in his
career, he like many beat authors and poets, had trouble getting his stuff
published. One can speculate on this as his motivation for the library in
his novel. According to the site just noted, a manuscript library from
Brautigan is being housed at the Burlington VT(Fletcher Free Library). The
library is not accepting any new submissions :-) Mayonnaise jars serve as
So, for library planning purposes we will soon have some
questions -questions that Brautigan's librarian may have asked upon a time.
Do we supply only the e-book titles we purchase/select? Or do we take
donations of e-vanity fare? If we take donations, won’t we need to read
them first? If not how do we assure they are consistent with our collection
development policies, not to mention consistency with the state and federal
laws for our library? And e-book plates for donated vanity fare, what do we
do with them?I have no answers here, only questions that I think Brautigan, among others
may have liked. But I do have an observation, to Joe Schallan and others -
I still think its a great time to be a librarian.
So sign me once again,


Thomas J. Hennen Jr.
6014 Spring Street
Racine,WI 53406
Voice: 414-886-1625 Fax: 414-886-5424

 [PUBLIB] Great time to be a publisher

Thomas J. Hennen Jr. (thennen@haplr-index.com)
Wed, 19 Apr 2000 17:35:26 -0700 (PDT)


It may be a still be a great time to be a publisher or a librarian, despite
all the problems, it seems.
Jason Epstein has a fascinating article that parallels the recent “Great
Time to Be a Librarian” thread on PubLib (see digests 1233 to 1236 at
Epstein's article is on the future of the book publishing business and it
is titled “The Rattle of Pebbles.” It can be found in the New York Review of
Books; Volume XLVII, Number 7; Cover Date: April 27, 2000. It is on also
the web at:
Epstein: “Twenty years ago when my children and their friends came of
age I advised them to shun the publishing business… Today I would offer
young people… the opposite advice. The transformation that awaits them
foreshadows cultural ramifications that can hardly be imagined but that
promise a lifetime of creative adventure...”
Later Epstein adds that in the 50’s his Random House offices “were a second
home for writers as well as for ourselves. Mrs. Debanzie, our Scottish
receptionist, usually sent them upstairs to see us unannounced: W.H. Auden
in torn overcoat and carpet slippers delivering the manuscript of The Dyer's
Hand; Ted Geisel, known as Dr. Seuss, arriving with his story boards to
recite Green Eggs and Ham to us in Bennett Cerf's large, square office at
the end of the hall; Cardinal Spellman submitting his poetry, which we
published as a neighborly act and to forestall controversy with the
monsignors over our parking spaces.”
Epstein compares publishing until it was high jacked by the bean counters in
the 80’s to a craft or vocation – something that will ring true to those of
us in public libraries. He believes that technology may free the cottage
industrialists of the book for their true vocations yet again -- something
that we librarians can also pray for.Says Epstein cogently 
“Many valuable books—most in fact—are not meant to be
best sellers, and these tend to be slighted in the triage of contemporary
publishing and bookselling.” Not to worry, Mr. Epstein, libraries can and
do take care.Those worried about the likelihood that the net will destroy our beloved
libraries will hear more than a bit of an echo in Epstein’s assertion that:
“Such name-brand best-selling authors as Tom Clancy, Michael Crichton,
Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and John Grisham… no more need publishers to edit
and publicize their books than Nabisco needs Julia Child to improve and
publicize Oreos... Should publishers cease to exist—a likely possibility
sooner or later if not a certainty—these functions could be performed
equally well by independent contractors available for hire: production
consultants, publicity agencies, and distribution services.” 
He goes on to note that: 
“The old technologies of internal combustion and
mass marketing that created the homogeneous suburban marketplace and its
chain bookstores are being challenged by technologies that foreshadow a
highly decentralized marketplace offering the possibility of nearly infinite
choice to buyers at innumerable remote locations.”

Sign me still,

Thomas J. Hennen Jr.
6014 Spring Street
Racine,WI 53406
Voice: 414-886-1625 Fax: 414-886-5424

 [PUBLIB] Great time to be a librarian - May you live in interesting times.

Thomas J. Hennen Jr. (thennen@haplr-index.com)
Tue, 18 Apr 2000 04:53:09 -0700 (PDT)



It is a Chinese curse, of course, to say: may you live in interesting times.
Who can deny that we do?
That makes it a great time, something that is true even if libraries and
librarians as we know them will morph into something radically different in
the next few years. That morphing will likely be to the point that we may
no longer recognize libraries or, indeed, ourselves.
Writing in PUBLIB Digest 1233, Joe Schallan, Information Services Librarian
at Chandler Public Library, Chandler, AZ responded to my posting of 9 April,
2000: We have met the Demographic and it is us!
That posting was on the radical restructuring that the commercial firm,
NetLibrary has done in the under 2 years since its founding. Look to the
comparable types of radical re-structuring that the Internet has forced on
libraries in the last few years. I find myself both terrified and
exiliarated. See http://www.haplr-index.com/Demographic.htm
What Jone Shallan has to say is certainly thought provoking. I cannot say
that I have not had many of the same thoughts in my less optimistic moments.
I expected immediately that it would lead to an interesting thread, and so
it has.
Remember the quote about how young people today are going to hell in a
handbasket and how culture will be destroyed by these youthful barbarians...
and it turns out to be Socrates saying it? And no I am not going to look it
up, though I could on the web even if I cannot call a 24/7 reference service
to be sure...
Well if you read library history you will see that when the first public
libraries went to open stack collections there were definitive statements of
the imminent demise of the institution. Many were the soothsayers who
announced our doom from the onslaught and misuse of collections by "heedless
immigrants" until, of course that immigrant Carnegie changed their tune a
bit. It wasn't all that long ago that some within ALA would have had us
believe that racially integrated libraries would lead to the end of
civilization. There was a time when librarians feared that cheap paperbacks
would spell our ruin, too. There were Chicken Littles to spell our doom
from photocopiers, film, comic books, and videotape to mention just a few
more. The list goes on of course.
So yes, the times, they are a-changing. And yes, of course, the Net changes
everything. And yes, perhaps this time, the stakes are higher. And yes,
perhaps our competitors really will eat us alive this time - and leave the
public the poorer for it!
But libraries really DO build community and it cannot be ALL virtual. When
libraries build community, communities re-pay the favor. We all need some
"face time" in our lives with real living people. If those people are
smiling and offering a welcoming place to cybercafe [that's like 'doing
lunch' only in a cybercafe equipped library doncha know?] the public will
keep coming. If we keep nudging opent that pre-schooler's door to learning,
parents will vote with their feet, their hearts, and their wallets. I know a
lot of great library people who plan to continue to add value to the library
experience as it evolves.
The challenges are huge and daunting and downright scary. That's what makes
it interesting! The times, as in that Chinese curse, are indeed
interesting. The times they ARE a-changing. I, for one, think it is a
great time to seek wisdom and share knowledge. And I still ask, is this a
great time to be a librarian, or what?

Thomas J. Hennen Jr.
6014 Spring Street
Racine,WI 53406
Voice: 414-886-1625 Fax: 414-886-5424

 [PUBLIB] Bobby and accessible web sites

Thomas J. Hennen Jr. (thennen@haplr-index.com)
Wed, 12 Apr 2000 04:41:50 -0700 (PDT)



Writing in PubLib Digest 1228, Nann Blaine Hilyard of Lake Villa District
Library in northern Illinois asks for those that "have contrived to make
your website ADA compliant?" I have tried, with mixed results on my own web
site. Our excellent web administrator at Waukesha, Nancy Fletcher, has done
much with the WCFLS site. See the Waukesha site at:
A good source for checking on compliance is Bobby. Bobby is a web-based
tool that analyzes web pages for their accessibility to people with
disabilities. It is a free public service to expand opportunities for people
with disabilities through the innovative uses of computer technology. To
analyze your web site, type in the URL of the page that you want Bobby to
examine and click Submit. Bobby will display a report indicating any
accessibility and/or browser compatibility errors found on the page. Once
your site receives a Bobby Approved rating, you are entitled to display a
Bobby Approved icon on your site.
Bobby was created by the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST).
Founded in 1984, CAST is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to
expand opportunities for people with disabilities through innovative uses of
computer technology.
Bobby is available as a free downloadable application that allows you to
check multiple local files or entire web sites at one time. The application
runs the same page checking code as the online version. Once your site
receives a Bobby Approved rating, you are entitled to display a Bobby
Approved icon on your site.
>From their web site we have:
Over 3 million web pages tested per month
Over 650 sites have been Bobby Approved

Thomas J. Hennen Jr.
6014 Spring Street
Racine,WI 53406
Voice: 414-886-1625 Fax: 414-886-5424

 [PUBLIB] Analog Abyss (fwd)

PUBLIB (plib2@sunsite.berkeley.edu)
Tue, 11 Apr 2000 15:54:18 -0700 (PDT)


At PLA in Charlottee, Christine Koontz, Florida State University, talked
about the soon to be released report: Measuring Library Services Where
Minorities are the Majority. She noted that in many library branches
serving minorities, the inhouse use and reference statistics were higher
than in non minority branches. The data are not consistently collected by
the Federal State Cooperative Service, so this can only be addressed
Her comments reminded me that there has been much made of the Digital Divide
of late, including the Summit covered at:
http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/digitaldivide/ and the Digital Divide
Network at:
But it seems to me there may also be an analog abyss, as well: other ways in
which library services to minority populations fall short.
Comments on the analog abyss?

Thomas J. Hennen Jr.
6014 Spring Street
Racine,WI 53406
Voice: 414-886-1625 Fax: 414-886-5424


[PUBLIB] We have met the Demographic and it is us! (fwd)

PUBLIB (plib2@sunsite.berkeley.edu)
Mon, 10 Apr 2000 15:23:46 -0700 (PDT)


Only those of a certain age argue about whether it was Pogo or the Alligator
that said: <We have met the enemy and it is us.> Younger demographic
groups just look it up on the web. :-)
What a difference a few months can make in the looking glass world of
e-texts! Five months ago, I lamenated that NetLibrary (tm) was marketing to
gen-exers not boomers like myself. But now NetLibrary has cut off both
exers as individuals and me at the virtual knees! And, it appears,
librarians like myself must share the blame.
On 17 November 1999 I wrote: On my daughter's radio station a commercial is
about,yes, a REALLY COOL web site - a library site no less! But it is not
her Dad's library, no, its NETLIBRARY.COM. The commercial brags that you
have thousands of the really best books to choose from and its almost as
cool as MP3... And it is only $29.95. They were marketing NetLibrary to
gen-exers and not boomers like me. See Unabashed Librarian #113 page 32,
or: http://www.haplr-index.com/Demographic.htm
Oh to be the demographic, again! I also noted in November that the FIRST
time I tried to buy a membership in NetLibrary.com I got one of happier
404-not found messsges I have ever gotten. Shortly after I WAS able to buy a
subscription, however. In fact, ironically, I used it to do research for
the article on public library standards in the March 2000 issue of American
Libraries. But within the year, I wll only be able to have this access IF
my local public library subscribes to NetLibrary.
On 7 April 2000 I received notification from NetLibrary that reads in part:
In response to feedback from our publishers, libraries, and members,
netLibrary is changing the way we offer our eBook collection to consumers.
Over the next couple of days, we will discontinue offering our annual
Private Collection Membership. Instead, consumers may access netLibrary
eBooks through their participating local public, academic, or corporate
libraries, or they may purchase eBooks directly from the netLibrary web
site. eBooks added to netLibrary's collection after March 31, 2000, may be
accessed through a participating library or bypurchasing a personal copy
directly from the netLibrary Web site. See:
We are planning a grant funded test of NetLibrary to begin this fall at the
public library system that I administer, but I do not know of the plans for
the library system in which I live.
In less than two years, NetLibray went from the germ of an idea to a
multimillion dollar IPO. In less than 6 months it radically re-focused its
markeing. What a roller coaster we are all on. As they say to those of us
saying "oh to be the demographic" - be careful what you pray for, you just
might get it! And, as Pogo might have said to the Alligator: "Is this a
great time to be a librarian - or what?"

Still just,


Thomas J. Hennen Jr.
6014 Spring Street
Racine,WI 53406
Voice: 414-886-1625 Fax: 414-886-5424

 [PUBLIB] Semantic Interoperability and Cyborgs

Thomas J. Hennen Jr. (thennen@haplr-index.com)
Tue, 29 Feb 2000 20:27:17 -0800 (PST)


This is (partly) satire. Publibbers may be familiar with the attempts by
library folk to catalog the net using the Dublin Core and the Warwick
Framework. (References below). These catalogers worry that the net is
being indexed by search engines that can't possibly keep up with fast
growing and chaotic web resources. They seek semantic interoperability -
tell me that's not an eight bit concept! They worry that on the web there
is no controlled vocabulary such as one finds in cataloging rules. The word
<bridge> means one thing to an engineer, quite another thing to a
orthodontist, still another to a card player. Search engines will never
catch the nuances without the help of catalogers for the web. Enter the
Dublin Core, the OCLC CORC project and the Warwick framework, to try to
catch, rather than reap, the whirlwind.
In the February 2000 issue of Wired Magazine is the article "Cyborg 1.0" It
is subtitled: "Kevin Warwick outlines his plan to become one with his
computer." Warwick, what a great irony, for catalogers, no? Warwick, a
research in Great Britain, not a Framework or "container." decribes his
experiment to implant a chip in his arm and an attempt to record his
emotions and then play them back to his nervous system, eventually, he
hopes, over the web! He fears heights, so he will climb a cliff, record the
emotion and play it back to his nervous system over the net. Spooky, no?
Therefore, even though we haven't even BEGUN to properly catalog the web
that we already have, we must now, it appears, turn to emotions! My
question is: where does one turn in Sears List of Subject Headings or the
Dewey Decimal system for some of the following emotions. ( am sure
Publibbers will think of many more.)
Emotion 1: That sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when you
realize, just as you slam the door, that the keys are still in the car.
Emotion 2: That raw, I wish it were the weekend thought, when the patron
slams the books down on the desk and shouts "I am a taxpayer, and..."
Emotion 3: That helpless feeling when your teenage daughter asks if you
would be more bothered by a tongue piercing or a tatoo...
See and see also :-)

Dublin Core
Warwick Framework
CORC Project

Still wondering at times, just how much more digital it can get, so, sign

Thomas J. Hennen Jr.
6014 Spring Street
Racine,WI 53406
Voice: 414-886-1625 Fax: 414-886-5424

 [PUBLIB] Long Range Plans

Thomas J. Hennen Jr. (thennen@haplr-index.com)
Thu, 9 Sep 1999 04:03:30 -0700 (PDT)


Writing in Topic Number 3 of Publib Digest 985, Rochelle Logan Associate
Director, Library Research Service, Colorado State Library notes a request
for published long range plans. She noted only one response and three
others she could identify.
Providing that the request includes the need for federated system plans as
well as individual library plans, one could look at the Waukesha County
Federated Library System Strategic Plan. It is avaialble at
Follow links to <WCFLS Information For Member Libraries> then to <Strategic
Plan>. A free Adobe Acrobat Reader is required to read the document.

Thomas J. Hennen Jr.
6014 Spring Street
Racine,WI 53406
Voice: 414-886-1625 Fax: 414-886-5424

 [PUBLIB] Turn of the Millenium

Thomas J. Hennen Jr. (thennen@haplr-index.com)
Sun, 30 May 1999 16:38:50 -0700 (PDT)


Publib Digest 882 had much to say about the 2000/2001 argument for when the
new millenium begins. But there is yet another grave crisis looming for us
all ;-) And it is not Y2K.
What afterall will we call the next two decades? You know, we call them the
60's 70's 80's and 90's. What of the next twenty. Journalists especially
will be stymied. How can one do sweeping generalizations in increasingly
shortened space without a shorthand name for an era? Seems to me we will
feel silly talking about the ought times, as in ought one as shorthand for
2001. One can hardly name a decade the teens when it begins in 2010 either.
Last time around they settled for calling the whole twenty year period from
1900 to 1920 the Turn of the Century.
I suggest calling the 20 year period the Turn Of the Millenium. Then we can
acronymize the whole era as TOM :-)

Thomas J. Hennen Jr.
6014 Spring Street
Racine,WI 53406
Voice: 414-886-1625 Fax: 414-886-5424

 [PUBLIB] Library Schools Say Cheese?

Thomas J. Hennen Jr. (thennen@haplr-index.com)
Sun, 28 Mar 1999 21:51:46 -0800 (PST)


U.S. News this year ranked the 48 master's degree programs in the United
States that are accredited by the American Library Association. The rankings
are based on the results of a fall 1998 survey sent to deans, program
directors, and faculty of accredited graduate programs. The information is
Maybe its something in the water, or is it the cheese, but the relatively
small state of Wisconsin has two schools in the top 20!
Add this to our great scores on the HAPLR Index, and we are on a roll --
perhaps a cheese roll :-)

Thomas J. Hennen Jr.
6014 Spring Street
Racine,WI 53406
Voice: 414-886-1625 Fax: 414-886-5424


[PUBLIB] Corporate underwriting

Thomas J. Hennen Jr. (thennen@haplr-index.com)
Thu, 27 Jul 2000 08:25:32 -0700 (PDT)



On public radio they call it corporate underwriting - Corporate funding for
Are there libraries out there that have experience with corporate
sponsorships for programs or materials. We are considering corporate
underwriting for publicity and promotional materials and would like to hear
from other libraries with experience. We anticipate potential questions
about suitable sponsors (Phillip Morris NOT/ Absolut NOT, how about
companies that pollute or destroy rainforests, etc.?)
Any policy samples out there? Cautions, concerns?

Thomas J. Hennen Jr.
Voice: 262-886-1625
Fax: 262-886-5424
6014 Spring Street
Racine, WI 53406

 [PUBLIB]You know you are a micromanager when.

PUBLIB (plib2@sunsite.berkeley.edu)
Sun, 23 Apr 2000 17:10:31 -0700 (PDT)

I want to talk about the appropriate relationships between boards, directors
and staff for some writing that I am doing. I thought it might be fun to
have a test called “You know you are a micromanager when… 
”Scoring might be something like this- if you scored above 50 on this test,
go get a life, 30 to 40 means start NOW finding ways to scale back your
micromanaging, read at least two of the good management books in the
bibliography, 20 to 30 means reduce by a factor of 2 the reports you
require, 10 to 20 means you are probably no more meddlesome than most bosses
or boards, under 10 means you are doing fine, zero or below means ‘pay
attention, this is your responsibility after all!’So how about it PubLibbers? 
Any good one-liners on micromanaging?

Thomas J. Hennen Jr.
6014 Spring Street
Racine,WI 53406
Voice: 414-886-1625 Fax: 414-886-5424

 [PUBLIB] Librarian's Prime Directive, round 2.

Thomas J. Hennen Jr. (thennen@haplr-index.com)
Sat, 11 Mar 2000 09:49:48 -0800 (PST)


Several days ago I noted the Star Trek concept of a prime directive: never
interfere in the natural development of other civilizations. Others, too,
have prime directives. For physicians the prime directive is: first, do no
harm. For carpenters it is: measure twice, cut once.
I asked for librarian prime directives to consider. Here is what we have so
The librarian’s prime directive is either: 
1. Seek wisdom, share knowledge.
2. Listen, serve, preserve.
3. Connect people with ideas.
4. Access.
5. Save the time of the user.
6. Just get it out. :-) - From a tech services perspective.
Other comments?

Thomas J. Hennen Jr.
6014 Spring Street
Racine,WI 53406
Voice: 414-886-1625 Fax: 414-886-5424

 [PUBLIB] Statewide Library cards or access

Thomas J. Hennen Jr. (thennen@haplr-index.com)
Mon, 6 Mar 2000 11:49:14 -0800 (PST)



I am doing research on statewide library cards and I hope the Publibbers can
If you know of states that have statewide library access I would like to
hear about them. I also very much want particulars for the program:
Is there an actual card issue or just state access using many cards?
If a card, does the state issue the cards, are they separate from "local"
Are libraries reimbursed for service to non-residents, and if so at what
How much does the program cost the state?
Pros and cons, complaints... ?
Most importantly, who would be a good contact person for further background?
I will summarize responses for the list. Thank you.

Thomas J. Hennen Jr.
6014 Spring Street
Racine,WI 53406
Voice: 414-886-1625 Fax: 414-886-5424


[PUBLIB] Performance Measurement Standards

Thomas J. Hennen Jr. (thennen@haplr-index.com)
Fri, 25 Feb 2000 18:11:14 -0800 (PST)



Recently there have been quite a few postings with the heading of
"standards" that had to do with intellectual freedom issues rather than the
performance measurement standards included in my article in the March issue
of American Libraries or at the http:/www.haplr-index.com website under
"Library Standards."
Direct link at:
ALA as a professional organization cannot and does not, of course,
promulgate mandatory standards on anything - intellectual freedom, building
size, collection size, or whether or not to buy DVDs.
But to say that a professional organization cannot dictate local issues is
NOT the same as saying that it should not seek to use its collective good
sense to define what exellent library service is. It is precisely because
we cannot do the former that we must do the latter.
As much as I have enjoyed the responses on intellectual freedom issues
generated by Ms Gounaud's posting, I would like to hear responses on the
performance measurement standards issues raised by my article and the
standards webliography cited.


Thomas J. Hennen Jr.
6014 Spring Street
Racine,WI 53406
Voice: 414-886-1625 Fax: 414-886-5424

 [PUBLIB] National Library Standards

Thomas J. Hennen Jr. (thennen@haplr-index.com)
Sun, 20 Feb 2000 20:09:40 -0800 (PST)


Why We Should Establish a National System of Standards

In the March issue of American Libraries, edited by PubLib co-moderator
Karen Schneider, I have an article on the need for national library
ALA has not published national standards since 1966. The organization
formally abandoned the task in 1980 when it began the Planning Process
series. The third edition, Planning for Results came out in 1998.
I look forward to Publib comments on the article. I have also extended my
remarks on the need for standards at my web site – AL limits to 2,000 words
and I got carried away at 9000 on the web site. The site also includes
links to about 20 state library standard pages as well as reference to the
August 1999 draft of the IFLA Public Library Guidelines. This IFLA draft is
the first revision since 1986 and a lot more on the Internet and electronic
sources, of course. If you are interested, see the link at http://www.haplr-index.com
follow the link to Standards.

Thomas J. Hennen Jr.
6014 Spring Street
Racine,WI 53406
Voice: 414-886-1625 Fax: 414-886-5424

[PUBLIB] DatCalmGuy

Thomas J. Hennen Jr. (thennen@haplr-index.com)
Tue, 1 Feb 2000 19:19:30 -0800 (PST)

The other night my wife and I watched a video. The video was <The Truman
Show>, http://www.tvguide.com/moviedb/ShowMovie.asp?MI=39475 a tale about a
man who seems wildly paranoid because he thinks his life is being videotaped
and programmed. Of course he is not paranoid because he is indeed the
unwitting star of a television story about him and his programmed exploits.
When the video was over we watched a special news report about a guy in
Texas who had changed his name legally to DotComGuy and would be living for
an entire year in a rented house in Texas which he entered with nothing but
a laptop and a modem connection. Seems he will forage off the Net for
everything he needs for that time - with many corporate sponsors and
interviews, of course. You can even watch him, like the hero in Truman, on
the Internet at: http://www.dotcomguy.com/
It is all getting just a bit too digital for me. I think I will try and be
more analog in this millennium.
Perhaps like that kid in the movie <A Thousand Clowns>
http://www.tvguide.com/moviedb/ShowMovie.asp?MI=23523, I could get a new
library card with a new name every few weeks...

For now, just sign me


Thomas J. Hennen Jr.
6014 Spring Street
Racine,WI 53406
Voice: 414-886-1625 Fax: 414-886-5424

 [PUBLIB] Public library standards

Thomas J. Hennen Jr. (thennen@haplr-index.com)
Wed, 9 Feb 2000 19:48:44 -0800 (PST)


Recently I asked for web sites for state or local public library standards.
Thank you to the PubLibbers that responded.
Some sent me links for certification of librarians or for standards for
metada, standards for circulation systems and the like. However, at this
point I am only looking at standards for public library services and
performance, not other types of library standards.
Presently I have Web sites for 10 US states, one Australian site, and one
proposed set of county standards (Waukesha County where I am the federated
system director. I am still looking for more, but for now I have posted the
links along with a brief description of each and a set of print references
on standards at my web site at:
http://www.haplr-index.com Follow the link to <Library Standards>.
Thanks for the responses. I hope to collect more sites soon. Several
states indicated that they plan to post their currenly print based standards
in HTML or PDF format in the near future.
Anyone know of national standards - European, Asian, Australasian, Canadian,
etc... ???
I have not found anything yet.
I am also very interested in examples of county or regional standards that
any of you can share.


Thomas J. Hennen Jr.
6014 Spring Street
Racine,WI 53406
Voice: 414-886-1625 Fax: 414-886-5424

 [PUBLIB] e-wavering...

Thomas J. Hennen Jr. (thennen@haplr-index.com)
Sat, 6 Mar 1999 11:36:13 -0800 (PST)


When my kids were little I used to drive by Lake Michigan and shout "Hi,
Lake Michigan."
My kids would laugh and say: "Lake Michigan never says hi, it only
waves!" - It only works if your kids are under 10.
I wonder if we should say: "The E-rate never says hi, it only waves?"
And if so, what lake would we be passing?

Thomas J. Hennen Jr.
6014 Spring Street
Racine,WI 53406
Voice: 414-886-1625 Fax: 414-886-5424

[PUBLIB:12569] Best Libraries

Thomas J. Hennen Jr. (thennen@wi.net)
Sun, 21 Jun 1998 09:13:15 -0700 (PDT)


Can you help identify the criteria to use to select best libraries in
Please giver your advice on how the various input, output and cost
factors should be weighted when evaluating and ranking libraries. Publib
subscriber votes will help determine the appropriate weight to assign to
each of the 12 library measures that can be calculated from existing
data. A complication is that the national data from the Department of
Education does not include ANY measures of electronic or internet
service. Once the field is narrowed by ranking libraries on the more
traditional measures of library services, it seems appropriate to apply
a few electronic measures. What should these measures be? Please add
your suggestions for electronic measures to your suggestions for ranking
the traditional measures.
First some background is in order. Money Magazine's annual report on the
"Best Places to Live in America" uses library books per capita as one of
the key indicators for the Quality of Life section. The other factors
were doctors per capita, five star restaurants within a reasonable
distance, and average commuting time. The number of library books per
capita and the quality of local library service is the item over which
local elected officials have the most control. Libraries currently
face problems in maintaining a decent amount of print materials while
still getting "wired" for Internet access. For their 12th annual
ranking of the best places to live in America, they interviewed people
in 512 households across the country about the factors they feel are
most important in choosing a place to live. Then they gathered data on
the 300 largest metropolitan statistical areas, crunched the numbers and
ranked all 300 cities according to population size (1million plus,
250,000 to 999,999, and 100,000 to 249,999) and region (Northeast,
South, Midwest and West).
Money Magazine used books per capita from the annual Bowker publication
as one of their numbers to crunch, but that is not the sole measure of
library quality, of course. What if more input and output measures
were used to refine the definition of quality library services? Could
a similar index be developed just for public libraries? It might not
change the Money magazine rankings much, but it would surely be of
interest to librarians and library users everywhere. The library
numbers that need to be crunched are available from the U.S. Department
of Education. Nationwide public library statistics are collected and
disseminated annually through the Federal-State Cooperative System for
public library data (FSCS). Statistics are collected from nearly 9,000
public libraries. The center collects standardized data for each
library from 50 state library agencies. This includes data on: staffing;
service outlets; operating income and expenditures; size of collection;
and service measures, such as reference transactions, interlibrary
loans, circulation, and public service hours.
>From the available data, the following measures can be extracted. The
question is how should the factors be weighted? For instance, is the
number of volumes per capita more important than periodicals per
capita? Collection turnover is important, but should we rank the best
library as the one with the highest turnover even though that may mean
simply that it has an inadequate stock?
Please address your responses to:

Best Libraries Project
Thomas J. Hennen Jr.

Please rank the top three just the top three or four - with 1 being the
If you think all the measures should be weighted evenly, just email me
with that information.
Here are the measures that can be calculated from the available data.

Volumes owned per capita
Percent of budget to materials
Periodicals per capita
Circulation per capita
Circulation per patron visit
Reference questions Per capita
Patron visits per capita
Book collection turnover
Circulation per FTE Staff
Cost per Circulation
Total revenue per capita
Materials spending per capita

Please also suggest electronic/internet access measures to use.
Examples might be:
Public Access workstations for the Internet per capita
Hours of electronic access used per library visitor
Thomas J. Hennen Jr., Lakeshores Library System Administrator
email: thennen@wi.net
voice: 414-636-9211  fax:  414-636-3710
HomePage:  http://ftp.wi.net/~thennen/


[PUBLIB] When's a library not a library?

Thomas J. Hennen Jr. (thennen@wi.net)
Mon, 31 Aug 1998 08:01:14 -0700 (PDT)


In library school there was an old joke about the library that did its
job so well that one day it ceased to be a library. It seems that the
staff was forced to say, I am sorry, but we are so popular that all our
materials are checked out today! Could you come back next week? Now
granted this is akin to the sophmoric discussion about trees falling in
the forest with none to hear, but is there a grain of truth to consider
here? Clearly a library with no materials on the shelf is not a
library, but what about 1 percent, or 5 percent, or even 50 percent of
its materials? I am asking because I want to look at the concept of
capacity utilization in a library. In a manufacturing setting this
means that if a factory has the ability to produce a hundred widgets a
year but is actually producing seventy its capacity utilization rate is
seventy percent.
In a library the capacity utilization rate would be a function of the
length of the loan period, the number of materials for loan, and the
minimum numbers of materials still available for a library to call
itself a library. Leaving aside the problem of Internet access that
theoretically moves materials available in the direction of infinity,
what do others think about the availability issue? Specifically what
percent of the materials must be on the shelves for optimum
performance? Fifty, sixty, ten?
Another way to approach this is using the turnover rate - materials
stock divided by annual circulation. Assume every user keeps every item
for the entire three-week loan period of a library and always returns
items when due. I know, what planet am I on, right? But for the sake of
discussion assume this, please. If that were the case, then a collection
turnover rate of eight would leave only half of the materials on the
shelf at any one time. In turn, a library with 10,000 items to
circulate would be at capacity if it circulated 80,000 items annually.
A circulation of 40,000 would represent a fifty percent capacity
utilization rate. But it all hinges on the materials availability rate
Is the ideal materials availability half of the stock, three quarters,
or some other fraction? Any thoughts? And if you have seen research
that speaks to the issue, please let me know.
By the way, a turnover rate of eight would be very unusual, though not
unheard of, in American libraries. Most libraries have a rate of about
two or three.
Thomas J. Hennen Jr., Lakeshores Library System Administrator
email: thennen@wi.net
voice: 414-636-9211  fax:  414-636-3710
HomePage:  http://ftp.wi.net/~thennen/



[PUBLIB] Starr Report Filtered?

Thomas J. Hennen Jr. (thennen@wi.net)
Sat, 12 Sep 1998 15:05:52 -0700 (PDT)

As the saying goes: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes -- who will guard the
guards? When the Congress publishes the smut, and it is to be used for
Impeachement hearings, must the filters filter? Wouldn't it be ironic if
a library lost its e-rate discount because it failed to block the Starr
One cannot help but wonder if the School Internet Filtering Act, S 1619,
sponsored by Senator McCain would result in libraries and schools
blocking access to the Starr Report that the Congress has just released
to the Internet. Numerous agencies are mirroring the report. The report
is multiplying like locusts because sites are using it to build traffic
and generate the click throughs that add to their advertising revenue.
With all these sites and slight variations on the title each time, it
is unlikely that any filter will successfully block the report.
McCain's legislation would force libraries and schools to employ filters
or forgo the e-rate discount - if there ever is an e-rate discount. It
reads in part: Before receiving universal service assistance under
subsection (h)(1)(B), a library that has a computer with Internet access
shall certify to to the Commission that, on one or more of its computers
with Internet access, it employs a system to filter or block matter
deemed to be inappropriate for minors... [T]he determination of what
matter is inappropriate for minors shall be made by the school, school
board, library or other authority responsible for making the required
Thomas J. Hennen Jr., Lakeshores Library System Administrator
email: thennen@wi.net
voice: 414-636-9211  fax:  414-636-3710
HomePage:  http://ftp.wi.net/~thennen/



[PUBLIB] Books by the pound sales

Thomas J. Hennen Jr. (thennen@wi.net)
Sat, 12 Sep 1998 15:06:31 -0700 (PDT)

Louise Schimmel recently asked about pricing for book sales in
libraries. I suggest pricing them by the pound (or kilogram if you
When I was at Watonwan County Library in Minnesota, we had a large,
antique butcher's scale that we used. We marked down the sign every day
of the sale. On day one of the sale, before the doors even opened, we
marked things down from $2 to $1. Hey that's how retail stores do it,
why not us? People came in and snapped up the paperbacks and childrens
books. On day 2 we marked things down to 50 cents, and mostly cleared
out the hardcover fiction. On day 3 we marked it down to a 25 cents and
started clearing hardcover nonfiction and donated copies of National
Geographic. By Day 5, at 10 cents, the remaining items were a scraggly
lot, but we still got bargain hunters. On day 7 we marked the remainders
down to a penny a pound. We always had the sale in Fall. On day 7 a
guy we knew with a wood burning stove that he heated his home with would
come to buy the remainders at a penny a pound. Our price was cheaper
than fire wood and just as efficient, he said.
The board loved not having to store unsold stock from one sale to the
next, and not having to put unwanted items in the garbage. The staff
loved not having to individually price the books, or change the prices
as the sale went on. Bargain hunters loved it - we had lots of repeat
visitors. Many of the books were re-cycled by donation and subsequent
sale numerous times. And the press loved it. We always got good press
photos of someone standing at the antique scale with a tower of books
and a bargain hunter's smile.
Thomas J. Hennen Jr., Lakeshores Library System Administrator
email: thennen@wi.net
voice: 414-636-9211  fax:  414-636-3710
HomePage:  http://ftp.wi.net/~thennen/




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