Happy Holidays from LAT !!

Dave & Oleg - and all of us - wish you the happiest of holiday seasons !!

Send your own ElfYourself eCards


I'd better lay off the cologne..........

People ask me what working with librarians is like (I know, I've said this before) and I tell 'em that librarians have even tougher challenges than retail, while having to be tolerant at the same time. This renders your average librarian into a clever alert flexible individual, usually fueled to a degree by humor, or in the case of British librarians, humour.

This rule of conduct from a US library website illustrates a typical flexibility-growing challenge:

"Any person creating or emanating an odor that can be detected from six feet away,
will be asked to leave the library until the situation can be corrected. Before
ejecting any patron who creates such a disturbance, the acting librarian shall
contact by telephone appointed representatives to act in an advisory capacity. If
the representative determines that the person is not making a disturbance, the
patron shall not be ejected. In the event the representative does not arrive within
30 minutes, the patron can be evicted."

So, in short, stinky can't be kicked out until fair play is established. Clothespins for the nose optional.

Now go and hug a librarian - but have a bath, first.


OCLC - Hippie-Like Freedom Killers?

How OCLC is killing cool
A lovely OCLC Power Grab Rant
Feeling tricked? Sign a petition.

Juat a reminder how cool stuff like LibraryThing are

Funny but Sad

From the NYLINE blizzard of emails today:

Perhaps you have heard that Michael Nutter, Mayor of Philadelphia has suggested closing at least 11 branches.

Last night a Philadelphia TV show did a story on the library situation.
The last line was-- "We tried to reach the mayor for comment but ironically, he was accepting an award for literacy promotion and therefore unavailable."


Has This Ever Happened To You?

Original Caption:

Milan -- Citizens stroll past the controversial cement, steel and glass public library which has excited various comments. Thousands of Milanese have protested the design by architect Mario Arrighetti. The building's front is made up of windows set deep in a multitude of squares, and plain cement surface, smooth and unbroken by any ornamental design. (1955)

Via If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger,
There'd Be a Whole Lot of Dead Copycats


RFP Rant

Hand - worked to bone.

I'm responding to my 6th RFP in a week and a half, and I've drawn a few conclusions that may help librarians get more respondents when they put something out to bid, or if they're not interested in that, make responses arrive faster, in order to keep within decision making deadlines (which, IMHO, are often missed.) These are ways to make the process of responding more practical, and will garner better responses from vendors (excluding those nasty uncaring vendors that just send back prices and a brochure)


Y'know we don't compose these things extemporaneously. You provide a framework. If that framework is purely paper, you double our task - right there - I type like Mickey Spillane, two fingers - and for me to retype your intended configuration of my equipment, or to spend half a day OCRing your "printed only" RFP, you only hurt yourself by curtailing the amount of time for us to get a richer, more meaningful response to you.



They are usually intended for read only, and cannot be easily copied and pasted into a response document - hence it's damn close to "printed only". If you want better faster responses, use MSWord, Google docs, or note pad, for that matter.

BUT if you use .pdf to protect yourself from underhanded sneaky evil crafty duplicitous vendors, ask yourself what your purchasing department is for - wait don't bother - I'll tell you - it's to protect you by archiving the original document, which come to think of it, is something YOU can do!

If one of LAT's competitors monkeys around with your words (!), REJECT THEIR PROPOSAL! Theoretically you are so protected, it's like you have giant purchase insulation strapped to every surface, innit?


Howdja like to work on something for 2 days, print and bind it, just to find in the middle of a hugely legalese laden page, in the middle of a hugely legalese laden paragraph something like "technical responses must be limited to 20 pages". Hello, technical department, how are you? (See #6)

Every proposal I get has something like "So-and-so library reserves the right to reject any submission for.........uh.......whatever ....vendor-monkey!

So you don't have to get all 19th century when artfully describing in lawyer language that(for instance) a proposal is due July 12th. Just bullet what you want.



-Proposal due July 12th
-42 copies (see #4)
-One copy must be marked original
-Original must be signed by officer of company
-Original must be notarized
-Appendices C and D must accompany submission and be signed (original only)

...as opposed to burying these rules in paragraph after paragraph of 1950's boilerplate.

Don't get me wrong - boilerplate away, just add the bullets.


Stop making Iron Eyes Cody cry with all the tree killing. Seriously.

Archive 1 or 2 copies. Read the rest electronically. These things run up to a hundred pages. I recently shipped nearly three reams of paper as a response. I can only hope that 11 or 12 of those librarians have parakeets, so they can line their birdcages with those (possibly-unread) copies.


Want a demo? Calculate how many thousands of pounds of Jet-A fuel gets blown into the atmosphere in it's carbonized polluting form to send a rep to see you. Then do that same exercise again for the equipment you want shipped.

To see if it's really gonna do what we say.

Despite you being protected by our integrity, videos we've produced, your purchasing team's rules, and any number of referrals we can provide.

As we do the demo, please remember that the particulate matter showering down upon you is your own.

If you really want a demo, however, we're more than happy to do it. Especially if your town is beautiful, and the food is good. Believe me, I love doing demos, because I am a frustrated star. I'll do 'em, but I'm just thinking of our mother.


When I get to the sixth "Describe how receipts can be customized" in an RFP I punch the wall- as a result I can now have conversations with technical staff in the next office.

Seriously, I know there's gotta be bad actors out there, but it's 2008! Receipts can be customized. It's dumb technology. Every Home Depot, ATM, Grocery, and LIBRARY SELF CHECK has customizable receipts, and while LAT's may customize a little better (and they do - ask me why!) I don't think any deal I ever lost impinged on whether receipt customization descriptions were filled out 6 times or not.

So next time, when:
Media Services
Collection Management
Children's Services
The Director
The Assistant Director
The Board
and Aggregators
...all want to know about how receipts are customized, please PLEASE just ask the question once.

(on a related note, I always love it when in an RFP a feature is listed under both "MUST HAVE" and "OPTIONAL FEATURE" - nobody's really reading what's going out, are they?)

Now I know I harped on about receipts, but the duplication of all features questions is out of control. Read through what you send, once, de-duplicate features requested, and then send it, K? Love.


Every question in existence does not have to be asked for CYA purposes. Money Back Guarantees can be negotiated, if the vendor in question does not already have one, your city purchasing disclaimers protect you most of the time, and regular old expression of intent to not brook bad performance usually does the trick.

This saves vendors the task of writing (or searching out, copying, pasting and formatting) a paragraph long description of what the power cord on the unit you intend to buy is made of, looks like, and it's projected lifespan.


I know it's sounds cool to say "RFPs will be Opened on Such-and-such a date at 12:00 noon" but y'know what? That means I have one less day to get it there. Even FedEx priority doesn't fully guarantee that - at least not to the degree that it gives me any confidence (having been told "tough luck" by FedEx a few times...)

Open proposals at 4:00 PM. It makes sense. I know "noon" gives you a feeling like you're at a ribbon cutting ("noon" "high noon" "Noon-on-the-dot" "we shall accept no proposal past noooooooon") but from a purely bureaucratic perspective, it's a stupid deadline in a fast paced next-day-delivery America. 4:00. Better.


Hey- I said it was a rant! I think the thing you folks should remember is that you're the last bastion in a failing society, fighting for freedom of speech, and making sure Americans lives are enriched, and a guy couldn't ask for a better bunch of customers. Honest. So if I'm like a Dutch Uncle with this rant, it's just to point out some Earth-saving, response-improving, common sense behaviors when sending out an RFP.


Hide Your Challenged Books !!!!

Palin asked Wasilla librarian about censoring books

The Boston Herald did a pretty good job of telling the whole story, in spite of the ephemeral nature of the ">TIME magazine blurb referring to it this week, the reference in Politico and Norman Oder's praising-with-faint-damning in Library Journal (clever, huh?)

But I think a town council member with a clear recollection of the question being asked in a public forum is good enough for me, rhetorical or not.

Shoulders back & helmets on everybody.

I still have a feeling Rindi White will hunt down Mary Ellen Baker, that involuntary bastion of free speech.

And remember: Banned Books week starts September 27th!

From ALA.org:

The “10 Most Challenged Books of 2007” reflect a range of themes, and consist of the following titles:

1) “And Tango Makes Three,” by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
Reasons: Anti-Ethnic, Sexism, Homosexuality, Anti-Family, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group

2) The Chocolate War,” by Robert Cormier
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Violence

3) “Olive’s Ocean,” by Kevin Henkes
Reasons: Sexually Explicit and Offensive Language

4) “The Golden Compass,” by Philip Pullman
Reasons: Religious Viewpoint

5) “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” by Mark Twain
Reasons: Racism

6) “The Color Purple,” by Alice Walker
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language,

7) "TTYL,” by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

8) "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” by Maya Angelou
Reasons: Sexually Explicit

9) “It’s Perfectly Normal,” by Robie Harris
Reasons: Sex Education, Sexually Explicit

10) "The Perks of Being A Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

Off the list this year, are two books by author Toni Morrison. "The Bluest Eye" and "Beloved," both challenged for sexual content and offensive language.

The most frequently challenged authors of 2007

1) Robert Cormier
2) Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
3) Mark Twain
4) Toni Morrison
5) Philip Pullman
6) Kevin Henkes
7) Lois Lowry
8) Chris Crutcher
9) Lauren Myracle
10) Joann Sfar


Kindle the Flames of Booklessness

Interesting article from Vancouver: writer Mark Bauerlein reviewing The Dumbest Generation

I asked my son, "Why doesn't your college library have one of our self checks?" His reply was, "Nobody takes out books." Luckily, he's not dumb, I will hastily add. Thank providence that typical US libraries are not yet affected this way, (unless you have feedback to the contrary) and that we also make the allCIRC(tm)

Get the book here.

Breathtaking QTVR of Venetian Libraries

I'm one of those people who feels that the Internet is intended to be a multimedia experience, ultimately. It's sort of the opposite of the convergence idea that cable TV operators had when they first started CableLabs. The TV does not display text well, everybody reads at differing paces and the interface was to unanimously dumbed down to provide any real interactivity. With HDTV larger screens and the public's familiarity with mouse gestures and keyboard shortcuts, it could happen now, but cable TV still does not get it. My dream: to be able to pause TCM and go to IMDb to figure out who an actress or director was. Are they close? No.

Enough ranting. The whole multimedia thing has led to this- me guiding you to these QTVR images of The Marciana Library in Venice. If you've never viewed QTVR, just drag your mouse up and down, left and right to look inside the views- shift zoom in and ctrl zooms out. (I've even done a few) If you useta look at QTVR and figured it was gimmicky, you haven't looked lately - expert photographers documenting spaces with better and better equipment.

Anway the link is here and at the image below:

Hey, a nice break from the usual Buy our products line huh?


Don't Fence Me In

Dale Ricklefs, the director of Round Rock Public Library in a recent discussion told us that after instituting Our FlashScan MAX units (shown below in the cool back to back "kiosk" positioning) she instructed her tem to spend time out on the floor introducuing the public to our easy-to-use units. As a result, circulation through these relatively new machines has gone to 30% of all transactions. She agreed with me, and we have seen this happen, that if the staff is not coached to buy in to the advantages of having a self check, and resistant to the idea, self check will not thrive, no matter how innovative the technology.

In environments where staff understands that self check contributes to Patron privacy and efficiency, and does not replace them (a preposterous idea!) self check usage jumps, and librarians find themselves assisting patrons with more meaningful problems other than handing them a book, in a library that is neater and better run.


Wow. Wowewowwuwawa Wow.

Our 907D units at Pike's Peak Library District - Workhorses!

In 2007 1.8 million transactions went through our machines at the Pike's Peak Library District:
~1 in 3 transactions went through a FlashScan unit.

That is not chopped liver, baby!


Some New Pix

Well, I'm goin' out west where I belong
Where the days are short and the nights are long
Where they walk and I'll walk
They twist and I'll twist
They shimmy and I'll shimmy
They fly and I'll fly
Well they're out there a'havin' fun
In that warm California sun.

Small Mammal Can Vanquish Small Insect

Here's a question:
How do you want your self check? Small mammal style?

We were looking at this article:
Local library has cockroach problem
and we jokingly said to each other, "Why don't we offer to build them a self check with a bug zapper that only turns on when a patron isn't using it?" But then we realized, hey - that's what we're about ......

When the dinosaurs were for the most part rendered extinct, it was the small mammals that thrived and developed as the preeminent next phase. They were able to move quickly, fit in places that a large slow, difficult to maneuver, animal couldn't, and most importantly - they evolved to the environment around them. LAT looks at you (libraries and librarians) as its environment and our evolution is dependent on the demands you put upon us. Just as you change for your patrons, we change for you. This is evident in the development of the allCIRC and the MAXine.

So next time you need an purple self check that shoots tranquilizer darts at only patrons with excessive fines, call us - we'll make it.

Or next time you need a self check that will microwave a toll house cookie during a transaction - call us.

Or if you just need the best self check, call us.

(856-566-4121, BTW)


Uncontrollable Theft

I laughed at the headlines:
"Man gets book thrown at him for library theft"
"Library fine speaks volumes"

But hey, here's that rare bird - and I mean rare - a real rara avis, a guy who identifies himself in the theft process, and it caught up to him. All the EM tape in the world would not have stopped him.

....and now he's been weeded from society's stacks!

"Denver Public Library last year estimated its losses at $35,000, while Douglas County reported that Pilaar had $11,000 worth of overdue materials, mostly pricey coffee-table books and DVDs"

How to Kill Your RFID Chip

These unfortunate realities exist, and motivations for libraries to utilize RFID must extend beyond common theft control. While this author is a generalist, and some of his info is flawed, step 4, where the actual "killing" is all too easy, is quite clear and confirmed by some of the commentors.

Link at pic:


You think you're library is busy now?

A recent report by the Queens Public library had the following excerpt:

Public library usage is expected to rise dramatically in the coming months. Traditionally, people turn to public libraries during hard economic times for free entertainment, free after-school child care, to help with employment, for free access to the public use computers and to help them save money by doing things themselves, such as home and auto repairs. Queens Library saw a 16 percent jump in circulation and attendance immediately following Sept. 11, for instance.

Considering the price of food, gas, electricity and most everything else on the rise, get ready for some very, very busy times.


Lil' Tiny Librarian Supports Constitution

It must have been quite a dilemma owing to the fact that the case was about a missing girl, but Judith Flint of Kimball Public Library in Randolph VT helped the Police not have their case thrown out, while protecting her, and her library's, liability.

The question really is: Don't the police there understand even the most rudimentary legalities? Why would you so flagrantly defy legal rules just so you could lose in court? While the case ended tragically, (the girl in question murdered by her uncle) the evidence would have not be submissible. It's a life and death situation, and standing fast for the warrant must have been difficult and she was inappropriately placed in that role- but it was the right thing to do.

Another question remains: Why does it take 8 hours to get a warrant in life and death situations? How preoccupied are the judges?


So, Feel Good - You're Not Just a Free Blockbuster


Libraries - one of the last bastions of cultural elegance in our pay-as-you-go-all-is-capitalism- there-is-no-society-as-in-Europe-or-the-America-of-the-past-what-do-you-want-a-free-ride-you-librarians-are-stealing-the-food-out-of-my-children's-mouths-hey.while-we're-on-the-subject-why-do-we-even-need-public-radio-I've-got-Rush-on-the-good-ol'-AM-and-I'll-tell-ya-these-welfare-mothers-have-got-it-down-to-a-science-and-did-I-mention-Obama-is-an-Arab-name "civilization" we're living in for the past, oh, I dunno, 8 years or so.....

LINK: "CLEVELAND (AP) — Libraries are lending more books, DVDs and other materials as patrons turn to free entertainment offerings during tough economic times."

VHS: Don't Let The Door Hit Ya In Your Clunky Giant Plastic Carcass On The Way Out....

Link to: Newark, OH Library sells off their VHS collection:

"The decision to move to an all-DVD collection was brought about by several factors, including decreasing circulation and video cassette deterioration."

Now how 'bout that allCIRC? Yeah !!

The Disc Form Factor is not Obsolete

Download schmownload.......

LINK TO A SMART LIBRARY: Blu-Ray! Blu-Ray! Blu-Ray! Blu-Ray! Blu-Ray! Blu-Ray! Blu-Ray! Blu-Ray!

Hey, why not institute a means to prevent their theft that is cost effective and just plain effective?

Human Intervention Not Helping in R-rated Borrowing

LINK: Theaters and video stores usually require an age of 17 or older to see or rent an R-Rated release, unless there is parental permission. But something altogether different is going on in some local libraries.

"We sent two 11-year-old girls to the DVD and video section in this Boston library.

Both picked out "R" rated movies and then checked them out.

Jonathan Hall, 7News
"Did a librarian say, 'Hey wait a second you don't look like you're 17?'"

Gillian, 11-year-old

Jonathan Hall, 7News
"They just said go ahead?"

Gillian, 11-year-old

Jonathan Hall, 7News
"Did anybody ask, 'Do your parents know that you're renting this rated "R" movie?'"

Gillian, 11-year-old

And it doesn't just happen once!"

A robotic device like an allCIRC can prevent these types of issues from occurring - it obeys your ILS rules every time......

Charging for DVDs is OK - It's called NOT FOR PROFIT

St. Paul libraries considers charging for DVD rentals - TwinCities.com:

$20,000: What the St. Paul Public Libraries systems spends each year to buy DVDs

$1.6 million: The system's annual budget for all new materials

$22: Its cost per feature-film DVD

More than $22: Its cost per educational DVD

50 cents: Daily fee to rent DVDs from most Ramsey County libraries

Zero: Current cost to rent DVDs from Minneapolis or St. Paul