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System Director’s Report:

November, 2006

I’ve just returned to the office on this last day of November from a day-and-a-half meeting of the LSTA (Library Services and Technology Act) Advisory Committee. There were many good grant applications and great discussions about other good ideas for needed projects, but as usual, not enough Federal LSTA money to go around. This meeting is the annual visit to that perennial problem.
Many staff positions and projects of the Wisconsin Division of Libraries, Technology and Community Learning depend upon this Federal money. Library systems need it to supplement system aids for technology, literacy and other projects. Though all the discussions around the table were cordial, there is an underlying tension between these competing interests. And the schools and special and academic libraries would like a share of the Federal library dollars too! Who can blame them?
If the Wisconsin Legislature ever allocated enough state money to support ongoing state library programs, it could free hundreds of thousands of Federal dollars to try new and innovative library services. I’m not holding my breath for that to happen, but getting an increase in library system funds in the upcoming biennial budget would be a good start.

At our last meeting you heard about ongoing problems and hopeful solutions for handling spam on our email server. The newest development in that realm is our problems sending Dynix hold and overdue notices to patrons who use as their internet service provider. According to Greg Barniskis in SCLS Automation, the Charter anti-spam system looks at the number of messages we are sending and assumes we are guilty of spamming until proven innocent. Unfortunately, they have no established procedure for an appeal. I sent a letter to the Charter Corporate Headquarters last week, but we have heard nothing yet.

The System Director’s Report That Wasn’t
I was struck by how many pieces of unfortunate news involving libraries came through my email inbox in the last two weeks. I know that Sophocles warned that “Nobody likes the bringer of bad news,” so here are just a few samples:

  • Man Shot near Circulation Desk in Chicago
  • Burglaries shut down Antiguas public library
  • German library worker allegedly took rare books
  • ACLU Sues Washington Library District over Filtering
  • Student Tasered by Police in UCLA Library
  • Library pulls internet access due to porn websites—Public internet access at the Mount Clemens (Mich.) Public Library has been revoked …

It is still November, and though some of our libraries are still battling for their budgets, looking at headlines like these reminds me how much we have to be thankful for here in Wisconsin.
See you on Dec. 11th. (And don’t forget to come early for lunch).