or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk

Vote Library!

   October 30th, 2012 Brian Herzog

I'm in Ohio this week* visiting family, and couldn't help but notice all the bright pink VOTE LIBRARY signs dotting the lawns in Huron, Ohio:

Vote Library lawn sign

It got me curious, so I looked into what the library was asking for. Funding increases are certainly nothing new to the library world, but I thought the Huron Library has put together a good levy campaign. They've got info on their website as well as a dedicated website for the issue. Both have a nice embedded video explaining how the library will use the money to benefit the community - and my favorite part is that they break it down to the personal level:

The owner of a home with a market value of $100,000 currently pays $25 per year for library services. The 1.25 mills will cost that same homeowner approximately $39 per year - a total increase of $14 per year. For less than the cost of two hardcover books, or two DVDs, per year, quality library service to the community can be preserved. [emphasis added]

Because there are so many people right now who are against any tax increases at all ever no matter what ever ever, it's important to focus on the value of tax money - and do it in easily digestible language. For people in a community with a strong library, $14 is not much of an increase - and it's certainly easier to understand on a personal level than an increase of .45 mill.

Judging from the number of signs I saw around town, the Huron Library has a lot of community support for this levy - good luck, HPL!


*I had planned to just stay for an extended weekend, but Hurricane Sandy conveniently cut off any return route from Ohio to Massachusetts, so my five day stay became eight days of playing with nieces and nephews and helping my parents (besides, my library was without power for a couple days so they never missed me anyway). I hope everyone else affected by the storm fared well.

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I am a Statistic, by Demetri Martin

   June 28th, 2011 Brian Herzog

This is a Book coverA friend of mine is reading This is a Book, by Demetri Martin, and shared the passage below with me.

I know it's a humor book, but I found one of the comments only marginally funny. Well, not that it was unfunny, but moreso that I have just always sort of taken it for granted.

The line I'm talking about is the fourth one up from the bottom on the page below. As a friend of mine from college used to say, "I am the norm; everyone else is just a deviation from me."

Also, the boomerang one is funny.

page from This is a Book

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OLC Cancels 2009 Conference

   July 23rd, 2009 Brian Herzog

OLC 2009 not-conferenceSadly, the Ohio Library Council announced Monday that it was canceling its 2009 annual conference. The reason:

OLC staff learned last week in a survey of library directors that very few libraries will have the funds to send library staff to this event. In light of the recent developments in the state’s public library funding and the drastic adjustments that all libraries have been making to their operations, the OLC made the most fiscally-responsible route for both members and the organization.

Considering Ohio's financial situation, cancellation does seem the most sensible course. But it is still unfortunate, because meeting and learning from other librarians is very valuable in our profession.

But also unfortunate is that the "mainstream" library world still hasn't adopted an alternative to the large conference. The OLC announcement states they are "exploring several different education alternatives, including regional and electronic options," and this situation illustrates why these avenues are important.

Librarycamps and unconferences can be every bit as practical and valuable as big conferences - and far less expensive. RUSA has been investigating e-participation, and I hope it catches on.

I was slated to be part of a library blogger panel at the conference, and I'm sorry to miss an opportunity to spend time with Ohio librarians. The state's budget is finally settled, but they're still facing a challenging year.

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Demonstrating The Value of Libraries

   June 30th, 2009 Brian Herzog

Update 7/13/09: Final state budget lightens hit to Ohio libraries

Save Ohio LibrariesThis post is unfortunately timely - by now you've heard of the cuts facing Ohio libraries.

I haven't said anything about this because it's been covered elsewhere, but it really worries me. I have friends and family that both work in and regularly use Ohio libraries. And I know how badly a 5% cut affected my library this year - I can't even imagine a 50% cut.

The value of libraries is difficult to illustrate (one might say immeasurable), which makes proposals like Gov. Strickland's possible. Libraries need to make a special effort to demonstrate our role and importance in our communities.

Two years ago I posted about the Library Use Value Calculator - a tool to let patrons calculate how much their library use is worth to them. I've been working with the ALA on version 2.0 of the library calculator (as part of their Tough Times Toolkit), and even though it's still in beta, I wanted to get it out there.

The new version looks and works the same, it's just easier for libraries to implement. Instead of having to muck around with coding, libraries can now embed it in their website web 2.0-style, just by copy/pasting a bit of code (like a YouTube video).

Please check out the new calculator, and add it to your library website - let me know if you need help. And if you are in a position to do so, please Support Ohio Libraries.

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Old Timey Photo Editing

   August 14th, 2008 Brian Herzog

Before and after photos of Cedar Point dock, circa 1900The library in my hometown has a blog, which I read because it's well done and because it's a way for me to stay connected with where my family lives.

I particularly enjoyed one recent post. Someone found a photo in the library's historical archive that had been later doctored for use in a promotional book.

Check the original post for bigger photos. It is interesting to see how the photo, circa 1900, could be altered so well - as opposed to some of the bad work being done now with Photoshop.

This shows that fun can come from library archive, especially photo archives. Also, too, the subject of the photo is interesting. It's the dock of Cedar Point, an amusement park in Sandusky, OH. And I am always amazed at how dressing nicely was just a matter of course in that era. People at Cedar Point don't dress like that anymore.

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Reference Question of the Week – 12/23/07

   December 29th, 2007 Brian Herzog

Ohio Lottery logoA reference librarian is never off duty...

I was home in Ohio for Christmas last week. At a party at an aunt's house, everyone received an instant scratch-off lottery ticket.

Out of the fifteen tickets (total cost: $30), we collectively won $22, so of course the discussion turned to the odds of winning.

The back of the cards said the odds for that game was 1 in 4.46. We wondered if all the instant games had the same odds, or if previous winners affected the odds, or if there was an easier way to tell than having the store clerk check the back of all the cards before you bought one (which, I'm sure, the clerk would not appreciate).

So, I went online to the Ohio Lottery website. After clicking around a bit looking for something that said "odds of winning," I took a more direct route with a Google search for "instant games site:ohiolottery.com."

That bought me to the listing for all instant games. You have to click into each one to find each games' odds, but this page included something very interesting: for each game, it showed how many prizes were remaining.

This, I thought, was a way you might increase your odds of winning - play the games with the most winners still out there. Since our game only had 6 winners remaining, it's no wonder we didn't win the $10,000 prize.

We also found a lists of recent and top prize winners, which was fun, as well as a place to sign up for an email notification whenever a large prize was claimed. Now that's hard core.

I know you can't win if you don't play, but I never win when I play; what are the odds of that?

games, instant, libraries, library, lottery, odds, ohio, public, reference question, winning

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