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Spring, 2003
Volume 49, Number 1

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2002 VLA Conference

Session Reports

General Opening Session

The 2002 Virginia Library Association Conference, entitled "A Community of Partners," was held at the Williamsburg Marriott from October 16-18. The conference theme was particularly appropriate as we learned the extent of Governor Mark Warner's recommendations to meet the state's budget shortfall. Iza Ciesznski, VLA President, called the meeting to order.

VLA Awards were presented to those who had made significant contributions to libraries. Anne Hailey accepted the George Mason Award on behalf of the Honorable John H. Chichester. The Friends of the Washington County Public Library received the Friends of the Library Award, and the VLA Volunteer Management Award was presented to Robert McGraw for his support of the Williamsburg Regional Library. Carolyn Tate received the 2002 Honorary Life Membership for her "continued enthusiasm and dedication to the Virginia Library Association especially in her efforts to recognize the worth of the paraprofessional within the library structure."

The Scholarship Committee also announced this year's scholarship recipients. Tammy Hines and George Oberle III received the VLA Scholarships, and Ophelia Payne received the Clara Stanley VLAPF Scholarship.

Sara Paretsky, author of the V. I. Warshawski novels, was the keynote speaker for the opening session. During her remarks, Ms. Paretsky extolled the pleasures of the written word and the power of books. She noted that Petunia the Goose was the first book of influence in her life and that at age 11 she enjoyed reading the American Girl series. Establishing her career as an author was a challenge and she noted that it took her agent a year to find a publisher for her first book. She stated that the character of V. I. Warshawski was created to give women a voice in a traditionally male work environment. She credits librarians for launching her career by purchasing her books for their collections.

Ms. Paretsky's remarks focused on the power of the written word and our freedom to read and to express our ideas. In light of the events of 9/11 and the passage of the Patriot Act, she encouraged us to be vigilant guardians of our constitutional freedoms, particularly our First and Fourth Amendment rights. She noted that the Patriot Act is wide ranging and that its full impact will not be understood until specific cases are challenged in the courts. She noted that the Patriot Act is a "chill wind blowing through the country" and that librarians serve as "a windbreak" as we protect the privacy of our patrons. Ms Paretsky discussed several authors whose works had been challenged, and she lauded the American Library Association's efforts to keep the public informed through its Banned Book program.

The power of Ms Paretsky's remarks is reflected in the last sentence of her speech: "It is my only hope, that against those forces which seek to silence us, to rob us of our voices and our precious freedoms, my words, Sappho's words, the Constitution's words, all these words, which are only breath, will not only endure, but triumph."

-Caryl Gray, Virginia Tech

Everytime You Blink There's a Broken Link- What Do You Do?

John Buelow, Electronic Resources Librarian at Virginia Tech, Tonia Graves, Electronic Resources Cataloger, and Charles Hillen, Lead Cataloger from Old Dominion University, led a panel discussion concerning how libraries locate and maintain broken links for online resources, including government documents. Mr. Buelow discussed how to evaluate and choose a linkchecking program that meets your individual institution's needs. Ms. Graves and Mr. Hillen discussed how to fix broken links in your online catalog, once they have been identified, and addressed related cataloging issues, such as format changes, title changes, and overall changes in workflow when handling electronic resources.

Mr. Buelow indicated that the fastest checker can take less than an hour, but the slowest can take as long as 13 hours tying up valuable resources. He also stressed that there is generally a standard error rate of 20%.

Buelow added that there are a variety of products available, however many of them come and go from the market quickly. He stressed that link checkers need to be kept up-to-date and noted that doing that can be a problem if you use a checker that is part of your integrated library system.

He stressed that you should choose a checker that keeps track of a system record number associated with each URL. Rechecking URLs at least three times is recommended, and it is important to try to find a checker that sorts so that errors, redirects, and timeouts can be rechecked separately. He also recommended comparing your link checker against another product at least once a year to make certain results are valid.

Graves and Hillen focused on how to fix broken links once they have been identified. They reminded us of some commonsense checks, like spelling errors, unnecessary periods at the end of URLs, domain and format extensions, and, since temporary delays and glitches with Web sites are a common problem, double-checking a URL.

While fixing the broken link is the primary goal, other cataloging concerns may arise. Some of these include handling title and format changes. When new electronic publications are issued, records may need to reflect both online and print or microfiche holdings so that users have a bridge between the past and current materials. These types of situations may affect serials cataloging choices. The speakers concluded by encouraging us to assess how the workflow needs to change to incorporate these new and evolving duties.

Overall, an informative session on new challenges in a virtual world.

-Janet Justis, Old Dominion University

Building a Successful Information Literacy Infrastructure on the Foundation of Librarianfaculty Collaboration

Christine Black (Business Librarian), Sarah Crest (User Instruction Librarian), and Mary Volland (Head of Reference Services) from Towson University described the importance of strong, librarian-faculty collaboration in the development of a 3-credit, required course, teaching information literacy skills. The discipline-based, general-education course Using Information Effectively (UIE) and other customized courses enable students to locate, access, manage, evaluate, and communicate information effectively. Their study began with faculty focus groups in which questions about information literacy, UIE support, and librarian-faculty collaboration were discussed. A third party facilitated and recorded the meetings, where meals were provided. It was found that the majority of information literacy support came from the library, and all the UIE objectives, from accessing information to citing sources correctly, were important for faculty. The librarianfaculty collaboration resulted in the inclusion of librarians in syllabi, invitation of librarians to student presentations, creation of a library catalog, databases, and mass media modules relevant to classes, and development of a module to address plagiarism. Changes based on the results of these focus groups included: 1) meetings with librarians and faculty to review course contents, UIE learning objectives, assignments, links to objectives and to library instruction on specific assignments; 2) development of customized exercises for classroom learning; 3) use of technology to enhance learning; 4) customized design of Web pages for specific classes; and 5) development of an "Intellectual Property" module. Librarians at Towson maintain contact with faculty - in person for initial contacts and complex discussions, in print for detailed information via letters, flyers, or invitations, by telephone to discuss new ideas and brief topics, and online via e-mail, Web forms, discussion boards, and course software (for routine information). As a result of collaboration with faculty, the librarians developed a survey instrument for all UIE faculty and plan to publish their findings.

-Pat Howe, Longwood University

Libraries, Links and Liabilities

The essence of the Web is its ability to link, argued Sam Clay, library director of the Fairfax County Public Library, in his presentation on how to navigate the murky, legal waters of Internet linking. As the courts continue to catch up with technology, the right to link copyright and trademark infringement and even domain names has faced judicial challenges. Clay explored several issues, including the constitutional concept known as "public forum doctrine," which resulted in Fairfax County attorneys drafting a restrictive Web-linking policy for the county's Web site. He also touched on cybersquatting, copyright and trademark issues, and deep linking and ended by offering some suggestions for Web linking policies that might minimize liability issues.

Clay related his experience of the Fairfax County attorneys' proposal that the county link only to those entities that are "… providing county government services and programs." The attorneys cited a U.S. Court of Appeals of the Sixth Court, ruling in 2000 in a case concerning Cookesville, Tennessee's management of its city Web site. The court ruled the city was within its rights when it told the publisher of an alternative newspaper he could not place a link on the city's Internet site. The court also ruled that the city's site was not a "public forum," as the publisher had argued. While the legal issues were complex, Clay explained, the problem with the decision was that it gave the green light to attorneys in Fairfax County to restrict links to a jurisdiction's site. The library's legal staff needed to be educated on the informational function of a library's Internet site.

Clay discussed other issues, including an instance of cybersquatting in which an individual bought two domain names similar to the Fairfax County Public Library site's URL, which showed graphic anti-abortion images when an individual linked to them. He reviewed copyright and trademark infringement issues and recent court cases, including a closely watched case in Denmark that ruled against deep linking. Deep linking is the practice of bypassing a Web site's home page to go to a specific piece of information.

To navigate these and other linking-liability issues, Clay offered the following suggestions: (1) stay informed about copyright problems; (2) exercise special caution when linking to sites with lots of banners; (3) be aware that some sites contain unauthorized copies; (4) when creating links, indicate the site owner and his/her affiliation in an annotation to the link. Display the site's URL next to the link's title; (5) if using frames, make an extra effort to identify ownership; (6) check whether the linked site has special requirements, such as obtaining permission to link or even purchasing a license; (7) make an extra effort to find a page with "terms and conditions," although the pages might also have different titles; (8) always ask for permission when extensively using someone's Web site; (9) write a disclaimer; and (10) if you receive an infringement notice, delete the link immediately, write an apology, and if the link is valuable, try to negotiate using it.

Libraries have been linking since before the Web existed, Clay explained. A card-catalog index is nothing more than a link. In closing, he encouraged his audience to be vigilant educators to help keep libraries free to link to whatever sites best serve their informational missions.

-Pat Bangs, Fairfax County Public Library

A Day in the Life of a Male Librarian

Bob Harrison, Branch Manager at the Horace C. Downing Branch Library in Norfolk, Virginia, led the discussion session on librarianship from the perspective of the male librarian. The objectives for the discussion were to determine if males experience discrimination from their female colleagues, to discuss what deters males from entering the profession, discuss survey results, and how we can improve the bonds between male and female colleagues.

With the use of a PowerPoint presentation, Bob showed the results of two surveys. The first was done in 1981. It was found that fewer females became library directors, and that 83% of the directors were male. Females had a lower salary than their male counterparts, and libraries with female directors got lower per capita support and compensation for beginners than male directors. A more recent survey was done where 196 professional and paraprofessionals from public and academic libraries completed the questionnaire. Of the responses submitted, 39 were from males. The results of this survey showed that the 39 males were all under the age of 40, and of the 157 females, 40 were between the ages of 50 and 60. All had agreed that librarianship was a femaledominated profession. The library profession as a whole was getting older, and fewer new librarians were entering the profession. Although males tend to get directorships, they do experience discrimination in subtle ways. But even with fewer males in librarianship, they get the advancements.

Following the presentation, Bob shared the personal experiences he has had with discrimination. He said on several occasions when it came to performing manual tasks, he had been asked to do them. Audience participants brought up that this is not something limited to the library but is a cultural phenomenon felt in almost every area of work. Any time there is a physical task to be done, the male is typically asked to do it. The subject of sexual preference was brought up, and while some participants said they had not been questioned, others mentioned that they had been stereotyped as homosexual or less masculine for working in a female-dominated environment.

The discussion concluded with several questions to consider. How can we correct the fears and concerns regarding gender-based work, sexualpreference assumptions, and other areas? How can we ensure a level playing field? How can we make the library profession more attractive to both males and females?

-Beth Weixler, Alexandria Campus Library, Northern Virginia Community College

What Librarians Should Know about Multimedia Players Presenter: Candice Benjes-Small

Based in part on a new book by the presenter and a co-author, the material presented was clear and convincing. There is no one multimedia player that does it all, and it pays to be familiar with all of them in order to assist patrons in their research and presentations.

Three multimedia players were described, evaluated, and demonstrated. Two are very similar -Quick Time and Microsoft Windows Media Player. Both have free versions. Microsoft's multimedia player comes with Windows XP, which cannot be uninstalled, and both require very little RAM (computer memory). The third multimedia player, RealOne/RealPlayer, is the oldest of the three but requires much more RAM than the other two. RealOne has an unfortunate tendency to crash a system and generally tries to take over all playing opportunities, even when relegated to the background.

Multimedia players are no longer just for frivolous entertainment on the Web. There are many educational videos and research opportunities, such as the CNN World Event archive, the Nobel Prize Museum, NASA sites, and the Salt Lake City Olympics site. Many public and academic libraries are developing librarytour videos in multimedia player format. As the multimedia players develop, it is important to realize that newer computers and Internet browsers handle them better because the multimedia players require faster processors to run smoothly.

-Amy Boykin, Christopher Newport University

Under-utilized, Under- Recognized: Special Collections as an Educational and Marketing Tool

The two presenters from the L. Douglas Wilder Library at Virginia Union University have found that exhibits of archival and special collections are a way to make these collections more useful and used. The trick to successful exhibiting is to make sure that after staring, the library patron leaves learning something. Good exhibit spaces include lots of walking around room, secure cases and cabinets for rare materials, and low lighting. It is important to keep exhibits simple so as not to overwhelm the patron with information. Exhibits can engage learners of all ages, and may include interactive sections for adults and/or children. At Virginia Union, it is not unusual to have faculty include special collections in their library assignments.

Collections exhibits can be cheaply created with rich rewards. By making sure that the publicrelations department of the institution knows about the exhibits, people coming into the library will be aware of what there is to see. Timing of a change in exhibits can mean everything when it comes to making sure the new display is seen. For example, have an exhibit open the same day as the institution's open house or back-to-school event. The exhibits should spark curiosity, which can lead to further research or to increased funding for special collections. Exhibits can also be the attraction that brings new collections to the library.

On the practical side, exhibiting special collections can take time and effort. It is wise to photocopy special collections items and display the copies, rather than the originals. It is recommended that the originals never leave the library. Photocopies or scanned digital copies can be made for patrons or exhibits. The presentation made it clear, however, that special collections do not have to stay out of sight but can provide opportunites for outreach.

-Amy Boykin, Christopher Newport University

Beyond the Board Room: Trustees and Friends as Library Advocates

To demonstrate what groups of citizens can do, an energetic and dynamic Sally Reed from Friends of the Library, U.S.A., began her presentation with the history of community support for public libraries across America during the Carnegie era. Now, more than 100 years later, librarians need "Friends" and Trustees to advocate for libraries in these times of budget cuts and "The Patriot Act." Sally outlined different advocacy campaigns.

The continuous campaign develops a profile of the importance of the library. What would happen if there were no libraries in the community? It's important to remember that library supporters are not necessarily users. Create a "buzz" about the library with public service announcements on television and radio, letters to the editor, oped pieces, promotional materials, newsletters, and presentations to community groups.

The targeted campaign attempts members. Be aware of your competitors and those sharing a piece of the budget. The audience offered several successful advocacy campaigns and in the end Sally said, "Don't let budget cuts meet with silence. Decry the cuts and send the message."

-Pat Howe, Longwood University

Closing Session

The closing session began with a brief business meeting. Janis Augustine read the minutes from the 2001 annual meeting, and Andrew Morton presented a brief financial overview of the association. Cy Dillon, chair of the nominating committee, announced the results of the VLA election:

Edwin "Sam" Clay - Vice President/President-elect Susan Paddock - Secretary Mary Mayer-Hennelly - ALA Councilor

Iza Cieszynski gave an overview of the state of the association before passing the gavel to Morel Fry. Both Iza and Morel emphasized the importance of advocacy and the importance of working together in the support of libraries in Virginia.

Rick Bragg, award-winning correspondent for the New York Times and author of All Over But the Shoutin', Ava's Man, and Somebody Told Me, was the closing-session speaker. He is currently a roving correspondent based in New Orleans. Mr. Bragg kept the audience spellbound with his stories of family and growing up in Appalachia. He said a good storyteller listened and patiently waited for the story to unfold. One can't force families to tell their stories. The telling has to be done on their own time, and they have to have plenty of time to come to a consensus. It was not uncommon for him to hear the beginning of a family story in August and the conclusion on Thanksgiving.

Mr. Bragg received the Nieman Fellowship in 1992 and spent a year at Harvard. When asked about his experience at Harvard, he said it was rich and rewarding, although he felt like "a hog in a cocktail dress" at times. The stories that he shared during his presentation were peppered with similar images that brought them to life. Although they are set in Appalachia, he said he does not talk about the sadness in Appalachia because it would "cause him to weep." There is sadness in his stories, but he has "tried not to make them folkloric."

In closing, Rick shared one of his family's Christmas traditions. Family members gather on Christmas Eve to hand out presents and enjoy chili dogs and 70 varieties of cake. Now what could be simpler!

-Caryl Gray, Virginia Tech

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