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Virginia Libraries

Current editors:
Beth DeFrancis defrancb@georgetown.edu, Editor
John Connolly jpconnolly@crimson.ua.edu, Assistant Editor

Spring, 2002
Volume 48, Number 1

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2001 VLA Conference
V@Libraries: Where Readers Connect

Session Reports

General Opening Session

As Director of the Center for the Book, John Cole is a strong advocate of reading, books, and the written word. His remarks focused on the Center for the Book-its history, its programs, and its plans for the future.

The Center for the Book was established by an Act of Congress (1977) to promote public interest in reading, books, and the role of literacy in society. The Center is actually a small office in the Library of Congress with a very small staff, and it works collaboratively with other departments within the Library of Congress to fulfill its mission. For example, the Library of Congress reading theme for 2001-2003 is Telling America's Stories. The Center for the Book and the American Folklife Center are jointly sponsoring this program, which takes advantage of the America's Library web site (http://www.americaslibrary.gov) and the American Memory web site (http://memory.loc.gov/) as web based resources to enhance the program.

Read More About It is another program that is sponsored by the Center to promote reading and learning more about any topic. This program develops brief reading lists for readers to learn more about topics presented on television, in exhibits, or digitized collections. It has been one of the Center's more successful programs as it works with major television networks to promote reading. The Center continues to work with the broadcast media to do just that.

Dr. Cole stated that the Center is continuing its effort to establish affiliated centers in each state. Currently they exist in 42 states, including Virginia and the District of Columbia. The Center has also established partnerships with civic and educational organizations for the promotion of reading.

Dr. Cole also spoke about the National Book Festival, which was held on September 8, 2001 on the grounds of the Library of Congress and the U. S. Capitol. First Lady Laura Bush was one of the many supporters of this program. Although the festival was organized in a very short period of time, it was a great success. Dr. Cole hopes the festival will become an annual event and noted that plans are already underway for next year to include the Pavilion of States.

Dr. Cole spoke briefly about the history of the Library of Congress, its buildings and collections. He also talked about the Jeffersonian legacy to the Library of Congress, particularly the purchase of Jefferson's library to replace books destroyed in a fire. The Library of Congress is attempting to assemble his collection as part of an exhibit on the president. Dr. Cole also reflected on the legacies of librarians of LC, including centralized copyright, catalog card service, a classification system, and a union catalog.

Support for the Center for the Book comes from both public and private sectors. Dr. Cole's reflections on the Center and its activities emphasized the power of partnerships. The Center has limited space and personnel resources, yet it continues to promote the joys of reading through a variety of programs and has used the power of the Internet to share resources across the nation and around the world.

-Caryl Gray, Virginia Tech

Records of Ante-Bellum Southern Plantations

Jean L. Cooper, UVA Libraries

Jean L. Cooper of the University of Virginia Library presented a session concerning the Records of Ante-Bellum Southern Plantations. These records represent a primary resource for Southern genealogists with contents spanning a time period from pre-1700 to 1865. This publication is particularly important in that it brings together in one microfilm publication records that are located in university and archival collections throughout the country. Using it, the researcher's work becomes immeasurably more efficient. Published in series format, series A-N are available at Hampton University, the University of Virginia, and Virginia Tech. Portions of series A-N are available in libraries located at William & Mary, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, James Madison, the Library of Virginia, Old Dominion University, and the Virginia Beach Public Library.

Thousands of pages of original records are included and often provide the only extant resources for burned county research. In addition, plantation records represent an essential resource for researching African American families prior to 1870. Estate papers, wills, deeds, maps, family papers, diaries, genealogies, and business records, including slave and property lists, are included. Ms. Cooper's presentation focused on several types of original records and described the information that family historians and genealogists are searching for in order to further their research.

Ms. Cooper's presentation on the Records of Ante-Bellum Southern Plantations can be found at http://staff.lib.virginia.edu/~jlc5f/Genealogy/Page1.htm and a list of Virginia surnames in these records can be found at http://staff.lib.virginia.edu/~jlc5f/Surnames/SurnameTableRpt.html.

The Records of Ante-Bellum Southern Plantations is a 'must use' for all researchers concerned with this time period.

-Carolyn Barkley, Virginia Beach Public Library

Teen Spaces

Pat Muller

Pat Muller, the Children and Youth Services Consultant at the Library of Virginia, offered a visual presentation of library areas designed for teens and provided tips on creating vital young-adult spaces. She focused on the three elements needed for a teen area:

  • First, effective use of space, such as the use of a T or an L shape to attract attention, and the displaying of items face out.
  • Second, visual appeal. Teens are used to the marketing directed toward them in the shopping mall, so the library needs to emulate those successful selling methods.
  • Third, connecting the space with teens-posting a bulletin board with "what's hot" items or with news stories about local teens, for instance.

Pat stressed besides that libraries could create more space and make an area more appealing by weeding and suggested that teen areas not be adjacent to the children's room. She showed photographs of various libraries throughout the state and throughout the eastern United States and discussed each in light of its value as a teen space. Pat suggested the use of slanted or grid shelving for face-out displays, the use of furniture, such as butterfly chairs and directors' chairs, for seating, and the use of posters to make the area attractive to teens. She recommended that teen space be located in a heavily trafficked area or one with a good line of sight. During the program Pat distributed handouts, including We Don't Have Enough Space from Connecting Young Adults and Libraries, 2nd Edition by Patrick Jones, Martha Stewart Doesn't Work Here: Revamping the YA Section by Donna-Jo Webster, and Principles for Planning Areas for Teens in Public Libraries.

-Ginger Armstrong, Chesterfield County Public Library

Censoring Library Materials & Access: A Trial

Rodney A. Smolla

"All rise, the court is now in session. The Honorable Rodney A. Smolla presiding." So began Censoring Library Materials: a Trial. The program featured a return visit to VLA by Professor Rodney A. Smolla, Allen Professor of Law at the University of Richmond School of Law. Joining Professor Smolla were four students in his First Amendment course(-Lee _Westnedge, Nicole Rossi, Lauren Brown, and Paul Emigholz.

Professor Smolla presented the facts for the following appellate argument: State X enacted a statute designed to protect its citizens from obscene materials in libraries-in books and through Internet access. It required installation of filters on all computers. The plaintiffs-a student and his family and others, such as the ACLU and the ALA-challenged the statute's constitutionality. The state responded that its newly enacted statute was constitutional. Repres_enting the plaintiffs were Mr. Westnedge and Ms. Rossi. Ms. Brown and Mr. Emigholz represented the State.

Professor Smolla asked each team to address whether Board of Education v. Pico, 457 U.S. 853 (1982) was still good law. The plaintiffs argued that it's not only still good law, but it is better now than ever. The state argued that it was never good law and certainly is not applicable in this Internet era. The plaintiffs said that it permits governmental entities to exercise authority and discretion, but that discretion must stand up to strict scrutiny. The state must show a compelling state interest when First Amendment rights are implicated. Books and materials, once selected, should neither be removed nor should access be denied them because the state disagrees with the content. The statute as enacted is over-broad, treating adults and children alike. Brown and Emigholz argued that State X's legislature, the elected officials, could make decisions such as this one-it is the elected officials' job. They argued that State X did not enact the statute because it disagreed with the content of specific books and materials, but rather _it enacted the statute for social/public-policy reasons and to promote shared community values. "The legislature, as elected officials, has the right to tell librarians what should and should not be in libraries," argued the state attorneys. They also argued that a library should not be required to provide access to everything for everybody. State X's statute is not preventing anyone from having access to any book or Internet site. It is merely saying that the state is not required to provide that access.

-Timothy L. Coggins, University of Richmond Law Library

Helping Library Users Find Medical Information

Beth Wescott

An audience of over 40 learned that MEDLINEplus is one-stop-shopping for health care information on the web. Network Coordinator Beth Wescott, from Region 2 of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM), had those present enthusiastically chanting "MEDLINEplus.gov" early in the session. This was one in a number of sessions that NNLM staffs are presenting at state and regional library conferences to inform libraries of services available to them for disseminating health care information to the public. Beth shared both personal and professional perspectives on information-seeking behaviors of the public and ways of evaluating and using print and web resources for health care information. Tips were given on collection development, reputable non-government web sites, Spanish-language content, and collaboration with local medical libraries. Using humorous examples, Beth stressed the real importance of locating the right information to match users' needs and reading levels. A number of those attending this session expressed warm appreciation for a very informative, well-presented presentation, which may be viewed at www.vla.org.

-Karen Dillon, Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital

Copyright Law Today: Beyond the Basics

James S. Heller, College of William & Mary School of Law

Despite his session's title, Dr. Heller made a good job of covering copyright basics for libraries too, by keying his presentation to his handout "A Baker's Dozen: 13 Copyright Questions for the Digital Millennium." Answering these permitted him to include background information on library exemptions and liabilities, and "fair use" issues for both libraries and schools, while also focusing on recent legal developments that have not registered their full impact yet. Dr. Heller reviewed salient provisions of the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) that permit libraries to make digital copies for selective preservation or replacement needs, that limit the liability of institutions as online service providers for copyright violation, and that prohibit circumvention of technological protection measures on copyrighted works. The TEACH Act (Technology, Education & Copyright Harmonization Act, S. 487), if passed, would extend benefits to government and nonprofit educational institutions for distance education as well. Besides such legislation, Dr. Heller touched on the implications of the Supreme Court's Tasini v. NY Times decision (favoring freelance writers), and other important decisions present and past that have helped define various copyright provisions. Throughout, Dr. Heller's approach was to interpret copyright law's purpose as favoring users wherever possible. He even offered practical advice on copyright notice labeling, and in followup questions discussed the conditions under which "electronic reserves" could be justifiable under law.

-Jeff Clark, James Madison University

How to Deal with Problem Parents

Katie Strotman, Caroline Parr, Setve Matthews

How librarians deal with problem parents is an issue that concerns all those who work in libraries. But it is of special concern to those who work in public and school libraries because a large number of daily transactions involve parents.

Panelists suggested ways to put procedures in place that staff could use, not only to minimize problems, but also to provide ways of handling problems when they occur. Suggestions included having procedures and policies that are written so that staff could explain the need for certain rules and regulations, such as the need to register for programs, why programs have age restrictions, library etiquette, what to do if a program is full, etc. Katie Strotman shared a flyer prepared by the children's librarians in Fairfax County, which explains such policies and the need for them.

Caroline Parr suggested that if problems surface repeatedly regarding a particular program, it should be evaluated. For example, if story hours for a particular age group are always full and have waiting lists, another story hour should be added, or the program should be repeated later the same day. In other words, use this time to examine the situation to see if library practices and/or policies are actually causing problems.

Steve Matthews suggested several ways to handle problems created by parents who volunteer in their child's school library. If the librarian has specific jobs set aside for parent volunteers that include a variety of duties to keep them busy and content, their time spent at the library will be beneficial to both the school and themselves. It is also helpful to schedule parent volunteers to work in particular time slots rather than having them all in at once. This gives adequate time for the librarian to train these valuable volunteers, whose work is essential to school libraries with no paid staff other than the school librarian.

-Jane Ferguson, Fairfax County Public Library, and Lisa Payne, Tuckahoe Area Library

I Signed Up For That Computer: Managing Your Public Use Computers

Susan Keller, Dawn Sowers, Stella Pool

As the number of computers increases in Virginia libraries, staffs face the challenges of monitoring the use of public terminals and the conflicts that occur when trying to provide fair access for everyone. Panelists from three libraries shared their experiences, revealing that while no magic formula works for all libraries, having a carefully written computer-use policy that is consistently administered can go a long way toward meeting those challenges.

Varying perspectives became evident as each presenter discussed her library's computer-use policy and procedures, focusing on the Internet. Culpeper County Library limits Internet access to library cardholders, keeping a record of each user on file and a sign-in calendar for its four Internet terminals. At the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library, which maintains a computer lab in addition to terminals in other areas, users register with a signature and little staff involvement-unless there is an issue, such as asking someone to vacate a station for another user. At the Fauquier County Public Library, a forthcoming policy revision plans to give users the option of presenting a library card or other identification beforehand. Since they provide both filtered and unfiltered access, users under 18 must have a parental permission form on file before using unfiltered machines.

Each library has tackled a number of other issues. If a patron at one library is observed viewing questionable material, the director will talk to the person and offer to let the police determine if the material is illegal, whereas at another library, recessed terminals below desk level make it harder to see what others are viewing. One library also offers terminals with proxy servers that only provide access to specified links. Timeout devices, such as Cybrarian, that log the terminal off after a period of time are being considered by a couple of the libraries. The retention of sign-in records ranges from one day to several months: the length of time varies according to local legal advice.

The session closed with a reminder that it is always satisfying to assist users who have a variety of computer skills and information needs.

-Tim Carrier, Jefferson-Madison Regional Library

E-Journals: Libraries & Vendors Making the Link

Arlene Hanerfeld, Merrill Smith

Arlene Hanerfeld demonstrated access to journal articles from the library at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington to a standing-room-only crowd. rShe emphasized that linking directly from citations to the full-text article between databases is a very new field and her access points are dynamically changing as new services become available. Using lists of database subscriptions, lists of available titles provided by vendors, durable URLs provided by EBSCO, ISSNs, and 856 links in the library catalog, a seamless access can be achieved for the patron. Merrill Smith explained how the durable URLs in EBSCO Online provide a constantly updated service to the library, reducing the problem of failed links.

A technical services departmental bias toward public service and student preference for full-text only has guided the construction of the UNCW service. EBSCO, JSTOR, Science Direct, were some of the databases demonstrated. The UNCW approach is a one record approach, with both print holdings and multiple online 856 fields attached to each bibliographic record. Hanerfeld uses the "S4" field in the checkin record of her Innovative library system to provide lists of electronic journals available.

Hanerfeld also demonstrated immediate article-level connections between EBSCOhost, Business Source, InfoTrac, Silver Platter, and Cambridge Scientific Abstracts.

The presenter emphasized that this is all a work-in-progress, with constant changes being the norm. She noted that, as print use decreases, electronic access is increasing the workload in technical services.

-Sharon McCaslin, Longwood College

Access to Electronic Resources: Archives and Theses Come Out of the Attic

Gail McMillan, Virginia Tech

Since January 1997 it has been required that all Virginia Tech theses be submitted in electronic format. Many theses are still composed and even submitted to faculty in paper, but the official university copy is only accepted in electronic format. The content of the theses has actually changed as a result, with color illustrations, video clips, and dynamic animation appearing in more and more theses.

The reasons for this change include: 1) more productive research with better communication be-tween student and reader, 2) better and more realistic training for the student as electronic publishing becomes the norm, 3) opportunities to showcase what the university does, and 4) improvement in library services. Better electronic documents, saved shelf space (166 shelves per year), and no wait for binding result in improved library service. The original electronic documents are also immediately available to UMI. Publishers have been supportive of electronically submitted articles taken from these theses.

Challenges have included the need to train graduate students in new skills and encourage faculty to give up their reliance on traditional paper copies. The library has served as a resource regarding copyright and fair-use laws, as a liaison between student authors and their advisors, and, more traditionally, as the cataloger and collector of theses. Archiving issues still remain, but Virginia Tech is convinced that increased and immediate access is more important.

An additional benefit of the program has been the increased availability of theses for student research-from two to three circulations per year in 1990-94 to over a million requests this year alone. l International access to this research has also improved.

McMillan noted that electronic theses are no longer experimental at Virginia Tech but that other institutions have been slow to do the same.

-Sharon McCaslin, Longwood College

The Public's Right to Know

Maria J. K. Everrett

Maria J. K. Everrett, Executive Director of Virginia's recently created Freedom of Information Advisory Council, presented a program on the role of the Council and Virginia's Freedom of Information Act. The Council has the responsibility of issuing advisory opinions on the day-to-day issues government agencies and the public face when putting freedom of information into practice. Her office can offer help and advice to the general public, government employees, and the media. Ms. Everrett discussed what people can expect when they make requests and what a government body must do to respond to requests. For example, a person does not have to invoke the FOIA law to make a request, and any request must have an initial response time of five days. A governmental agency can charge any amount up to the actual cost of producing the records requested, and an agency does not have to create a record if it does not already exist.

Of particular interest to the audience were the provisions for open meetings. Under Virginia's FOIA law, boards and other entities doing the public's business are open to the public; and whenever "two or more are gathered" from a public governing body, it may be considered a meeting, with all the requirements for public notice and openness required by the law. She also reminded those attending that e-mail can be a record and must follow records-retention guidelines established by the Library of Virginia and the Virginia Public Records Act. For more information see the FOIA Council's web site athttp://dls.state.va.us/foiacouncil.htm and State and Local Government Records Retention Schedules at http://www.lva.lib.va.us/state/records/index.htm.

-Mary S. Clark, The Library of Virginia

Author Luncheon with Dabney Stuart

Dabney Stuart, the author of 18 books, held the attention of the audience from the beginning of his remarks until the closing lines of his last reading. Cy Dillon introduced Mr. Stuart as a writer who "cares about every word," and this was evident in each reading. After some brief remarks about libraries and technology (he misses the card catalog), we were treated to several readings, including poetry selections and a short story.

Most memorable were the poems, that Mr. Stuart had written to his father to commemorate his birthday. The readings were prefaced with remarks about this father-son relationship and how it had changed and deepened over the years. His father was a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, and several of the poems focused on walks across the VMI campus on his father's birthday. These annual walks continued for several years after his death, but are no longer part of the author's October ritual. My Best Room and Sleep Walker were poems written to his father. As Mr. Stuart read these and other poetry selections, I shut my eyes so that I could focus on the words and the imagery. I was sad when each reading ended and eagerly awaited the next. High Desert Snow was a particular favorite. One could almost see the New Mexico mesa and the luminaries on that cold crisp Christmas Eve.

In addition to his poetry, Dabney also writes short stories. We enjoyed a selection from Bed and Breakfast, which is part of the collection in No Visible Means of Support. Again, the listener could visualize the scenes painted by the words of this story. Dabney did not read the entire story, but left the audience wondering how the story ended. I have reread Bed and Breakfast, and I look forward to reading other short stories in this collection.

-Caryl Gray, Virginia Tech

Bringing It Home: Providing Remote Access to Electronic Resources to Patrons

Steve Helm: Technology Manager, McConnell Library, Radford University

"It is so easy and cheap ANYONE can set up a Proxy to give their patrons remote access to e-resources." That was the theme stressed throughout the presentation by Steve Helm.

As expected, many public and academic librarians were drawn to learn about how remote access to electronic resources could be implemented easily and affordably. The presenter began by discussing the challenges libraries face in providing remote access to electronic resources, including IP filtering, the need for patron authentication, and the requirements of vendor licenses. He then introduced the fundamental concepts behind the different types of proxy servers and their functionality.

Helm explained McConnell Library's 1998 experience deploying a Netscape proxy server using proxy auto configuration files. While this Netscape Proxy Server solution worked, it required all users to modify their browser configuration and then authenticate every session with the proxy server, regardless of whether or not the user intended to visit a library e-resource. Predictably, this solution generated a barrage of frustrated queries by patrons to the reference department about how to get the proxy to work with their browser. Fortunately McConnell Library found a better proxy solution.

The majority of Helm's presentation focused on McConnell Library's second proxy solution, EZProxy, which McConnell Library began using in 2000. The software was developed by Useful Utilities (http://www.usefulutilities.com/ezproxy/) and has many advantages: It is cheap-$495; it needs minimal hardware; it offers multiple authentication options-from automated library systems, from e-mail servers, text file, and more. Best of all, EZProxy requires very little from the library's users. They simply enter a user ID and password, and the proxy sends a cookie that allows them to access the library's resources. The cookie is valid for the browser session or up to several hours, allowing the patron to use multiple e-resources without the need to re-authenticate.

The staff requirements to implement this proxy are also minimal. Librarians need only add a simple prefix to their e-resource URL and then include a few lines of text for each resource in the EZProxy configuration file. The needed hardware requirements for the proxy server are easily attainable as well. The minimum recommended EZProxy configuration for the Windows NT 4.0/Windows 2000 server is a Pentium 200 with 128 MB of RAM and at least 1 MB of disk space for installation. So virtually any currently purchasable computer will more than suffice.

In addition to using EZProxy for authenticating remote users before allowing access to subscription-base resources, Radford also uses the proxy for remote users of electronic reserves. Simply restricting e-reserve directory access to on-campus userst only and then authenticating patrons though EZProxy makes the e-reserves PDF files accessible to remote library users.

-Steve Helm, Radford Universityn

Closing General Session

Henry Wiencek, author of The Hairstons: An American Family in Black and White, delivered the 2001 VLA Annual Conference's closing address. This Yale graduate, originally from Boston, moved to Charlottesville to have access to books on slavery for the writing of his book. When he tried to do research in NYC at the Brooklyn Public Library, he found such access costly (a $600. fee was required) and particularly time-consuming because of closed stacks and the use of call slips. At UVA, by presenting his Virginia driver's license the author gained admittance to Alderman's open stacks and easily acquired faculty privileges, which are given to researchers. This changed Wiencek's brief stay in Virginia to a permanent move.

The Hairstons, which was the result of this "easy" research, won the '99 Book Critics Circuit Award. It took seven years to write and deals with a family of slave owners in southwestern Virginia. At one point it was possible to walk from Martinsville to Danville without ever stepping off Hairston property. They owned 40 plantations in three states (Virginia, North Carolina, and Mississippi) and 10,000 slaves.

Then Robert Hairston began to be uncomfortable with his wealth and with the institution of slavery. He confided to his brother Samuel that he'd decided to free his slaves and actually began to do so in 1832. Through the American Colonization Society, based in Lynchburg, he sent six slaves back to Liberia on the ship "Jupiter." He also trained a slave as a carpenter and set him up independently.

This set the rest of his family so firmly against him that he left them and, after traveling abroad, settled in Mississippi. There he managed cotton plantations and surrounded his home with an eight-foot-high brick wall implanted with iron spikes. Hairston built a hospital for slaves at Mineral Springs, and when he was in his early sixties, in 1845, he had a daughter by one of his slaves. In March 1852 he came down with pneumonia and at the point of death decided to will all his possessions to his child, who would be freed. The book recounts his end-of-life struggle to do this.

The story is a fascinating one, but most of all, VLA Conference listeners were amazed at Wiencek's discovery, while he was researching The Hairstons, that mainstream historians are apparently still inexplicably contemptuous of slaves and their descendants, who are the source of so much still-to-be-revealed information on the Washington era. The author has just cracked open the lid of this historical treasure chest.

-Earlene Viano, Hampton Public Library


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