Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A Few Notes on Libraries

Web-searchable card catalogs
Casey Bisson just noticed and commented on my post from back in May on his take on the google economy. He said it just showed up in technorati. I think that's because I just added labels (ie tags) and re-published almost all my posts. So I tootled on over to his website, and I find he's won the Mellon Award. Mr. Bisson talked that day about his software application that allows library collections to be searchable on the web. He works at PSU, that's Plymouth State University...not PSU, Portland State University.

Wireless in Libraries? People have been asking...
Free wireless is now available in Portland. Right now just close in to downtown. It's possible people will be able to connect from within the Central Library. I learned from a library memo that we are seeking ways to make it work inside buildings, as well as bring wireless to the non-Portland MCL branches. Meanwhile, the Personal Telco Project continues to work on blanketing the city with ad-free wireless.

Satisfied Customers
According to the County Auditor's Survey, people are very satisfied with the Multnomah County Library. Our director said her favorite stat was that "81% of those surveyed said that they were "very satisfied" with the "assistance provided by library staff". Add to that another 16% who were "somewhat satisfied" and you will see a 97% total satisfaction rating." No wonder we're the busiest public library in the nation for the 4th year in a row.

American Library in Burma
The New York Times recently had an article about the library provided by the American Center in Burma. The junta tolerates it even though the US is their enemy. There used to be more such libraries in many countries. It seems they were a cold war weapon, and after that ended, they were dismantled. In 'war on terror' countries, the libraries must hide behind protective walls. Burma seems to be in that diplomatic grey area where the library is still needed, but still safe to be openly available. The library staff person that brought this to our collective attention had herself witnessed the "thirst for books" in Burma, with people sharing books two readers at a time.

Library E-News
Local readers, have you signed up for your MCL library E-Newsletter yet? Here's where you can do that.

Oh, and one more thing. You can now rate books in our card catalog. Some people are using that as a way to remember what books they want to place on hold, because a person's ratings are attached to the library card account. Personally I've always wondered how useful online ratings could be, since they aren't random samples, but people who care enough to share their opinion. But this, this could be useful for personal booklists.

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