August 25th, 2007 Brian Herzog
This question is more interesting to me for the resource it turned up than for the question itself...
A coworker and I were both at the reference desk when a patron walked up and asked,
Can you find a list of what all state employees are paid?
Since there were two of us there, we both started looking, each in our own way.
I started with a Google search à la state employee payroll site:mass.gov (I've been getting a lot of mileage out of Google's "site:" search ever since I learned about it). However, even with trying different keywords, I wasn't getting anywhere.
My Coworker's Approach
My coworker just did an open Google search for Massachusetts State Employee Payroll, and found an amazing website with the first result. Apparently, the Boston Herald provides all of this information in a neat little searchable payroll database.
The patron was very pleased with that, and with the speedy turnaround. And we all had a good time looking up a few people.
However, feeling like this was the fast-food version of the answer, I still went back to Mass.gov to see if I could verify the information from an official source. I spent about twenty minutes over the course of the rest of the day looking, but never did find it.
I'm sure with a few phone calls or emails, I could have turned it up, but it's amazing how much better secondary sources are sometimes than the obvious primary resource.
boston herald, libraries, library, ma, mass.gov, massachusetts, payroll, public libraries, public library, reference question, state employees
Tags: boston herald, libraries, Library, ma, mass.gov, massachusetts, payroll, public libraries, public library, Reference Question, state employees
May 25th, 2007 Brian Herzog
It's been a threat for a while, and now it looks like the time has arrived: the library in Saugus, MA, has closed until further notice.
A friend of mine lives in the town, and I'm a librarian in Massachusetts, so I've heard a lot about this. At some point the town found its budget could not support the library's $500,000 cost. Various fees and taxes were proposed to preserve library funding, but none got support when they came to a vote.
The Library Director closed the library over the weekend due to a staff shortage, and now it is closed indefinitely. The staff who have not already left for other jobs have been told by the Town Manager to use up their vacation time before they all get fired.
Ever wonder what it would be like to live somewhere without a public library? Move to Saugus. Perhaps if enough people do, voting on library funding will come out differently.
close, closed, closure, libraries, library, ma, mass, massachusetts, public libraries, public library, saugus, saugus public library, spl
Tags: close, closed, closure, libraries, Library, ma, mass, massachusetts, public libraries, public library, saugus, saugus public library, spl
May 15th, 2007 Brian Herzog
When I upload photos to flickr, I always try to place them on the map, if appropriate. When I started a flickr account for my library, I noticed that there was a problem with the map.
I work at the library in the town of Chelmsford, MA, which is situated right next door to the city of Lowell, MA. Lowell is much bigger, and if it had a "metro area," Chelmsford would be a part of it.
However, after having lived her for a couple years, I know that the two communities are very different. High school rivalries, traffic problems - heck, I even hear Chelmsford library patrons complain about Lowell patrons and the Lowell library. Community loyalty here runs as deep as the Merrimack River.
So, I was sort of startled to see flickr claiming that all the photos mapped for the library's account (which were taken in Chelmsford) were listed by flickr as "Taken in Lowell, Massachusetts" (as circled in red in the photo above).
When placing photos on their map, flickr encourages you to place it as locally as possible. Because of that, I was surprised to see their local locations that inaccurate. I wrote to flickr, explaining the situation and asking if they could be more accurate with their map. Here's the response I received (from two different flickr support techs on the same day, two days after I sent my message):
We are aware that there are some locations that might be reflecting an adjacent city or town, or an incorrect place name. In some cases a place name might reflect a town name that is no longer in use. Flickr uses map data from Yahoo! which in turn is provided by third party providers (most online maps you see are sourced this way).
We are developing methods to allow you, the knowledgeable member, to be able to contribute to local adjustments. We don't have a particular date in mind when we would be able to offer this, but please understand it is something we hope to provide in the very near future.
Not exactly the "hi, we're flickr, and we can do anything" kind of response I was hoping for, but I do understand the issue. I guess I just have to hold on until this feature becomes available, and explain to our patrons why it looks like the Chelmsford Library is actually in the city next door.
chelmsford, chelmsford library, chelmsford ma, flickr, flickr map, lowell, lowell ma, ma, map, mapping, maps, mass, massachusetts
Tags: chelmsford, chelmsford library, chelmsford ma, flickr, flickr map, lowell, lowell ma, ma, map, mapping, maps, mass, massachusetts
April 29th, 2007 Brian Herzog
When I'm not at the library, I volunteer as a land steward with the Chelmsford Open Spaces Stewardship program. We build and maintain trails on the public lands managed by the Chelmsford Conservation Commission.
Mostly the work is small clean-up projects and just keeping the trails clear of debris. But this morning, we actually built a bridge (see photos).
Over the winter, a new green trail (indicated by the color of the letters on the trail marker signs like the one in the photo) was built at the Lime Quarry. The last step was to build a bridge to span a small stream, so a bunch of us met at 9am on a Sunday morning.
After all the materials were carried the half-mile from the parking area to the stream, it only took us about an hour to actually build the bridge. There ended up being 12 volunteers for maybe a four-person job, but between the extra help and having all the wood pre-cut, the job was a breeze.
If anyone is in Chelmsford and would like to walk these trails, let me know. Or, look around in your own communities for trails and parks, either maintained by the town or city department or by private or volunteer groups. Help maintain and preserve these public lands if you can, but by all means, go out and enjoy them.
bridge, bridge building, building, building bridge, chelmsford, chelmsford ma, chelmsfordian, conservation commission, lime quarry, ma, mass, massachusetts, public lands, town of chelmsford, trail, trailwork, volunteer, volunteering, volunteers
Tags: bridge, bridge building, building, building bridge, chelmsford, chelmsford ma, chelmsfordian, conservation commission, lime quarry, ma, mass, massachusetts, public lands, town of chelmsford, trail, trailwork, volunteer, volunteering, volunteers