Archive for May, 2011
Posted by: Janie Hermann
Tomorrow afternoon at 1 pm the Reference Section of NJLA will hold a meeting at Princeton Public Library so that the library community can have a dialogue on QandANJ.org and on the state of virtual reference in New Jersey.
I personally hope that the room will be packed to standing room only so that we can get as many opinions and ideas as possible. My fear is that attendance will be much smaller than it should be. I know that some will not be able to attend due to other work commitments, desk schedules, or travel distance (NJ is a pretty big state). If you are in that category, please take the time to share your thoughts with Michael Maziekien, the chair of the NJLA Reference Section, or leave comments in this post.
If you are still hesitating about attending for other reasons — such as apathy or not wanting to “rock the boat”, so to speak — then I encourage you to reconsider and take the time to come tomorrow. The key issue with this entire kerfuffle is not the decision to end funding for QandANJ, but the manner in which it was done. A decision about a statewide initiative that is staffed by librarians from over 50 libraries was made without any input from the stakeholders. This our chance to rectify the situation and have our say.
Until today my involvement with this issue since it surfaced about 5 weeks ago on April 4th has been to make several (some quite lengthy) comments based upon posts by Andy Woodworth and Pete Bromberg and to speak with other in our library community who are feeling the same sense of betrayal and shock over this decision. Pete and Andy have done an excellent job of framing the entire situation so I will not repeat what have they have said, but I did want to go officially on record as supporting their efforts to get the conversation started and not let the closure of a long-standing and beloved service be done without giving it a full and considered examination.
Tomorrow is not a “Save QandANJ” rally. It is a chance for open dialogue in which we can take steps to decide the future of virtual reference service in our state. It may very well be that the time has come to sunset QandANJ and even those of us who have been most vocal about this issue recognize this reality. Or it may simply be time to retoool the service, find new a funding model and/or scale down the service to recognize that many libraries have their own VR service and no longer need to be a member of the project.
The point is that we need to examine figures and facts, collect opinions from all sides both pro and con and then come to a consensus. This process won’t happen in one day or one meeting and I am very relieved that QandANJ has been given a reprieve to allow us time to figure this out.
I am also grateful to the NJLA Reference Section for taking the initiative to get the conversation started by calling this meeting and to Pat Tumulty and the NJLA Executive Board for issuing a statement that began with this sentence:
NJLA believes the library community must have a voice in determining the programs and services provided by state and federal dollars to the residents of New Jersey.
I have long been an advocate of the NJ State Library and have served on several committees for them over the years, including the Blue Ribbon Panel on the Future of Libraries. I continue to be proud of the innovation that is sparked in the NJ library community with the leadership of our state library. The NJ State Library has led many successful marketing initiatives that have raised the profiles of libraries and shown our value to our stakeholders. My disagreeing about the manner in which this one decision was made does not mean that I am no longer an advocate for their work or any less proud of the innovative services they provide. It simply means that we do not see eye to eye on one issue.
Some in the library community feel that those who are being vocal in their opinions are “betraying” the NJSL to openly call for a reversal of this decision and to request a meeting to discuss the future of the service. I do not see it as a “betrayal”. I see it as a way for all of us in NJ to grow as a professional community and am hopeful that the outcome will be a new way of doing business, one that is transparent and open and important decisions are given due consideration.
This has been a divisive few weeks for many, of that there is no doubt and it was evident at the NJLA conference last week. I know it has been very upsetting for many people for a variety of reasons. Let’s put that all behind before 1 pm tomorrow and work together towards a solution. If you have yet to feel free to speak up about your feelings on this issue, please find your voice and give us your feedback. Your ideas count and can impact the future of service for all New Jersey residents.
Posted by Robert J. Lackie
Libraries are increasingly essential in these tough economic times. People are flocking to our nation’s libraries for job and career information, small business research and e-government services as well as support for formal and informal education and lifelong learning. Congress made across-the-board cuts to federal programs in its FY2011 budget, and libraries fill the gaps made when other agencies and services. Unfortunately, libraries are also receiving federal budget cuts.
Even if you can’t make it to Washington for National Library Legislative Day on May 9, you can join us by contacting your representatives and senators during Virtual Legislative Day. Please contact your elected officials with the following requests:
- Fund the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) at $232 million, the level last authorized in December 2010;
- Preserve the Improving Literacy Through School Libraries program with its own budget line and appropriate the program at its FY2010 level of $19.1 million;
- Maintain funding for the U.S. Census Bureau’s Statistical Compendia Branch at $2.9 million in order to preserve publication of “Statistical Abstracts” and other publications;
- Fund the Salaries and Expenses work of the Government Printing Office (GPO) at $42,173,000 to preserve public access through the FDLP and FedSYS.
Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) (School Libraries):
- Support student performance by including an effective school library program as part of ESEA through the LEARN Act to include:
- A school library staffed by a state-certified school librarian;
- A school library with up-to-date books, materials, equipment, and technology, including broadband connectivity; and
- Instruction by librarians for students and staff on digital and computer literacy skills, including collaboration between classroom teachers and school librarians to develop and implement the curriculum and other school reforms.
While these issues are the most urgent at this time, there are many other critical pieces of legislation impacting libraries. For full list of key issues that will be discussed at National Library Legislative Day, click here. ALA has also drafted issue briefs on the following areas: Access, Appropriations for Libraries, Broadband & Telecommunications, Copyright, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Government Services & Information, Surveillance & Privacy and the WILL Act
Visit http://capwiz.com/ala/issues/alert/?alertid=44989511&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id] to learn more and send your congressman and senator a message.
Posted by Robert J. Lackie
In an RSS feed I received today, Peter W. Tobey at Salem Press (email@example.com) wrote that they were now providing free articles or chapters from published Salem reference books dealing with Osama bin Laden and terrorism. After reviewing them tonight while working the Reference Desk at Rider University Libraries (and missing the awards ceremony at the NJLA 2011 Conference for the first time in years!), I agree that many may find these free, quality resources of interest combined with other current resources within our databases, especially in light of current events. Mr. Tobey writes:
“Osama bin Laden’s death returns us to the subject of September 11, 2001 in a number of ways. But the events of that day, the personalities, frustrations, and cultural clashes involved are far from straightforward. And the repercussions are, of course, far-reaching. Salem Press has published a great deal on the history, biographies, religious and cultural backgrounds of terrorism. Perhaps most significantly, Salem has brought libraries two critical works by the Schlager Group covering the original source documents (plus analysis) of works by both George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden. We’ve selected these and two other articles on this subject (from four different reference works) because we feel your patrons and students may find them informative. You may download them freely, print as many copies of these articles as you need, and distribute them any way you’d like:”
“George W. Bush’s Address to the Nation on September 11, 2001: The Full Text & Analysis” (1,186 and 4,920 words) from Milestone Documents in American History
“Osama bin Laden’s Declaration of Jihad against Americans: The Full Text & Analysis” (2,322 and 5,048 words) from Milestone Documents in World History
Salem also has published a brief, helpful biography of Osama bin Laden and an overview of the war on terrorism. See links to these articles below:
“The War on Terror” (4,656 words) from Weapons & Warfare
By the way, these four reference book resources (PDFs) from 2008 and 2010, listed above, can also be downloaded from Salem Press’ Issues Today site, under the subheading: “May 3, 2011 – Osama bin Laden and the War on Terror” and are part of a new effort Salem is beginning where they will post free, relevant articles from their reference works on current topics in the news. I noticed on their Issues Today site that they also have four resources (PDFs) under the subheading of “March 30, 2011 – Nuclear Power” listed below the above items on their Issues Today site.
I thought this information and Salem Press’ new site might also be of use to others, and complete information on the reference books containing the articles above are provided at the end of each PDF. Now, off to the NJLA 2011 Conference tomorrow, one of my favorite conferences of the year!