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January/February/March, 2004
Volume 50, Number 1

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2003 VLA Conference

Session Reports

Thursday, November 6, 10 a.m.

General Opening Session

The 2003 joint Virginia Library Association/Virginia Association of Law Libraries Conference, "People Serving People," was held at the Homestead (Hot Springs, Virginia) from November 5-7. Morel Fry, VLA President, called the opening session to order and welcomed members of VLA and VALL. She introduced Bobbie Denny, VALL President, and Cathy Palombi, VALL Vice President/President. After welcoming attendees, Bobbie provided a brief history of VALL and its activities. Conference Chair Carolyn Barkley acknowledged the members of the planning committee, thanked VLA Executive Director Linda Hahne for her assistance, and gave a brief report on the conference. Five hundred and fourteen registrants and sixty-seven vendors attended the conference this year.

In a brief business meeting, Marianne Ramsden of the Scholarship Committee encouraged everyone to participate in the Scholarship Raffle, with recipients of the 2003 scholarships to be announced at the closing session. Connie Gilman of the VLA Awards and Recognition Committee presented the Friends of the Library Award to the Friends of the Goochland Branch of Pamunkey Regional Library in recognition of their service, especially in organizing and moving the collection into the new facility. VLA Past President Iza Cieszynski presented the report of the nominating committee and announced the results of the election:

Ruth Kifer—Vice President/President-Elect
Donna Cote—Second Vice President
Steve Preston—Treasurer

The keynote speaker for the opening session, Rita Mae Brown, is an award-winning novelist, screenwriter, and poet. Among Ms. Brown's many achievements, the Mrs. Murphy Mystery Series has endeared her to many readers. Ms. Brown enthralled the audience with stories peppered with her own experiences, including sage advice from her mother and observations on human and animal behavior. Ms. Brown noted that "readers are the movers and shakers of any community," and that as librarians we are not only challenged to provide information resources for our patrons, but we are also asked to assist patrons with new technologies, monitor appropriate use of the Internet, and deal with difficult patrons.

Ms. Brown focused on the recurring theme of language and its importance in communication. Language gives us the ability of express ideas to others. To emphasize the importance of language, she asked the audience to indicate who had studied Latin or other languages. Ms. Brown stated that having a background in Latin or another language expanded our ability to communicate, noting that there was a "fear of emotionality in our language." Knowledge of other languages gives us words to express emotion and to add color to our communications. When asked about her educational background, advice for aspiring authors, and what she likes to read, Ms. Brown noted that her educational background was in the classics and that she reads the classics for pleasure. She feels that a strong foundation in classical literature is very important to an author.

Ms. Brown loves animals and is a great observer of animal behavior. Continuing her theme on language, she noted that language is native to us because we create. Animals also have a "language" with which they communicate. We are beginning to understand the way animals communicate through research and observation. Animals also have the ability to be trained to understand our language. Dogs trained to assist persons with disabilities have a "vocabulary" of about 300 words, while other animals have been trained to use sign language to communicate. An avid participant in foxhunting and the training of hounds, Ms. Brown has observed animal communication. These observations led to the creation of the Mrs. Murphy Mystery Series, written in collaboration with her tiger cat, Sneaky Pie Brown, as well as a new series featuring the world of foxhunting. The main character of the foxhunting books, Sister Jane, is based on a ninety-four-year-old lady with a depth of knowledge about foxhunting and animal and human interaction. Knowledge of animal behavior allows Ms. Brown to include scenes that depict the world of humans as seen through the eyes of the fox.

Ms. Brown closed her remarks with a piece of sage advice that she received from her mother: "Honey, we're not here for a long time, we're here for a good time!"

—Caryl Gray, Virginia Tech

Thursday, 1 p.m.

To License or Not to License

Proper licensing is one of the keys to the effective and efficient provision of electronic resources in libraries today. As the demand for immediate access to databases, e-books and e-journals continues to increase, it is the job of the library's licensing agent to make sure that all of the behind-the-scenes details are executed successfully so that the product's front-end functions seamlessly. Lene Palmer, Acting Head of Collection Development and Preservation Officer at George Mason University, presented an overview of the licensing process at an academic library, describing what key terms to include in the licensing contract and what pitfalls to avoid.

Palmer emphasized that taking the time to develop an understanding of the major issues involved in any specific license is essential to a positive resolution. A thorough and careful reading of the entire document is of paramount importance. The licensee must take special notice of institutional definitions; identify key rights and obligations of both the licensor and the licensee; and review all business terms and contractual commitments before any documents are signed. Additionally, the library should pay special attention to text describing authorized users, restrictions on access (both local and remote), and language pertaining to copyright issues and legal matters. Palmer provided useful examples of text to include in licensing contracts.

The session concluded with consideration of some interesting questions that spotlighted real world experiences with electronic resource providers. Discussion showed that the public library perspective can be very similar to the academic viewpoint. Libraries in all sectors have found the licensing of electronic resources problematic on occasion. Some publishers seem more focused on making a profit than on providing efficient access at a fair price. Still, as Palmer pointed out, most content providers are willing to negotiate some of the terms of a license if approached in a professional and reasonable manner. Although the library and the publisher may have differing points of view, neither can exist without the other, and a cooperative effort to provide effective access to end users is in everyone's best interests.

—Bill Fleming, George Mason University

Thursday 1 p.m.

So Many Patrons; So Few Computers

Christine Campbell, Joanne Bowman, and Robert Sweet of the County of Henrico Public Libraries presented solutions to a wide array of computer resource issues, such as fair access to limited resources, the desire to reduce paper waste and recover printing costs and the need for enforced policies concerning appropriate Internet use.

To solve these problems, Henrico implemented SAM (Smart Access Manager) software to manage public access computers. SAM was chosen for its array of management modules. Henrico's implementation was a phased approach over one and a half years as modules were customized and adopted. The end result was computer session management, content filtering, and printing management by software based on patron data contained in library cardholder records. Patron data was not replicated in SAM, since the software works with the SIF2 protocol of Henrico's SIRSI library system.

SAM provides time session management to ensure fair and equitable access to computer resources without direct staff intervention. Upon entering a library card number and a PIN, computer users first encounter a popup window with the library's Internet Use Policy. Once the policy is acknowledged, a timed session begins. The software features custom messages and automatically logs off patrons when their session time expires. The software also performs content filtering, taking patron data from SIRSI and using it to determine an appropriate filtering level based on birth date.

SAM contains a print management module to recover printing costs. Patrons can deposit money in a SAM account to pay for printing on demand. SAM also provides reports management for analysis of computer use. A reservations management module is also available, but Henrico has not implemented it. Henrico views their implementation of the software as a success, calling the product powerful, seamless and flexible.

—Amy C. Bond, Lonesome Pine Regional Library

Thursday, 1 p.m.

This Old Virginia House

Carolyn C. Hughes of the Portsmouth Public Library conducted a presentation centering on historic Virginia residential properties within National Historic Districts. Houses can be considered historic if they are fifty years of age or older. The National and State Historic Registers have been combined into a single application process. Hughes compared the rule enforcement powers of the National Register and local Architectural Review Boards (ARBs), showing the later as having the stronger enforcement powers.

The local ARBs enforce rules regarding the exteriors of buildings. When reviewing an application for state and federal tax credits, they also consider the interior of a building. Many localities have placed their ARB guidelines online.

Before applying to place a house on the National Register, Carolyn Hughes recommends obtaining a copy of the National Register Bulletin, as it outlines the entire process. The National Register Bulletin is available from any of the regional Virginia Department of Historic Resources offices. Hughes also recommends A Field Guide to American Houses by Virginia and Lee McAlester. The McAlester book is great for making comparisons between architectural styles.

Carolyn Hughes prepared several handouts with resources for people restoring residential properties in Virginia. A resource list covered materials in print and electronic formats, while other handouts dealt with tax credit information.

—Gregg Grunow, Newport News Public Library

Thursday, 1 p.m.

Let There Be at Least Halfway Decent Light: How Library Illumination Systems Work—And Don't Work

John Moorman of the Williamsburg Regional Library and Frederick Schlipf of the Urbana Free Library presented five maxims for alleviating the problem of bad lighting in libraries, considered one of the seven deadly sins of public library architecture.

Maxim 1: Know how lighting technology works. Moorman and Schlipf reviewed the advantages and disadvantages of incandescent light, high-intensity discharge, and fluorescent light. Fluorescent lighting is recommended because it is easy to control, efficient, inexpensive, uses standard technology, provides accurate color and uses silent ballasts.

Maxim 2: Control light level and color. It is important to provide a suitable level of brightness, keeping in mind that light can be too bright, which is just as distracting as not enough light. To provide excellent color resolution, a high level of color rendition should be used. The "color rendering index" (CRI) measures the ability of lighting to reproduce colors well. The CRI runs from 0 to 100, so an 85 CRI would be acceptable. Color temperature works well with 3500º Kelvin to give libraries a warm look.

Maxim 3: Design lighting for maximum building flexibility. Libraries should avoid task--lighting, since it means shelves, desks, or other items cannot be moved without losing adequate lighting. Illumination should be uniform throughout the building. For good security, adequate light should be provided everywhere.

Maxim 4: Avoid glare. Avoid both direct and indirect glare when designing lighting scenarios in libraries. Avoid direct down-lighting, dark ceilings, and the use of skylights. It is better to have light come from the north and to shade windows that face directly into the sun. It is also advisable to refrain from having shiny surface areas, such as glass tables, since they can reflect glare.

Maxim 5: Keep it simple. The last maxim stresses that libraries should minimize maintenance problems by using fixtures with standard bulbs, placing fixtures where they can be easily reached, avoiding multiple lamp types and keeping ceilings at least ten to twelve feet high.

—Alyssa Altshuler, Williamsburg Regional Library

Thursday, 2 p.m.

A Model for Content Delivery of Virginia Cultural Heritage: The Thomas Jefferson Portal

Jack Robertson, Bryan Craig, and Endrina Tay of the Jefferson Library conducted a PowerPoint presentation demonstrating an online information access tool called the Jefferson Portal. The session began with an overview of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation and Jefferson Library.

The mission of the Jefferson Library is to provide information on Thomas Jefferson's life, times, and legacy. The Library's Thomas Jefferson Portal will coordinate and enhance access to information on Thomas Jefferson, whether housed in the Jefferson Library or elsewhere. It can be accessed through the main page of Jefferson Library's website, Built on Endeavor Information System's Voyager, the Portal utilizes simple natural language searching. It has been designed with the user in mind. In fact, the interface has been modified ten times with user input.

The opening search brings one to the Vertical File Finding Aid, which looks like an electronically simulated catalog card. The Finding Aid provides three views of the information file's content: the holdings view, which gives the item's bibliographic and holdings information; the detail view, which adds an abstract of the resource, contents, and notes; and the MARC view. The goal of the Jefferson Portal is to catalog at the single article level. An additional feature is the archive of previously asked questions. Each archive entry includes the question, the answer, and a list of sources.

The session ended with the outline of a preliminary proposal for the Virginia History Consortium. This will be a network of libraries, archives, museums, and related organizations designed to enhance access to information regarding Virginia's heritage. Online access to Virginia historical information is a key part of the program.

—Gregg Grunow, Newport News Public Library

Thursday, 2 p.m.

Who Dunnit—"The Case of the Hedwig Heist"

Rose Guzi, Marsha Weaver, and Michael R. Meise of the Roanoke County Public Library demonstrated how to create a children's mystery night from script to final curtain. The resulting program earned the 2003 Virginia Public Library Director's Association Award for Outstanding Children's Program.

The presenters set the scene with props such as a felt cityscape; an array of stuffed animals, including the owl Hedwig; a spooky soundtrack; and other props such as false glasses frames, tragedy/comedy masks, and Harry Potter posters. Attendees received a packet with information on how to host a children's mystery night, including a CD-ROM with files used in the actual production. As the session began, Miss Sob Story rushed through the audience screaming that the Hedwig owl had been stolen—just as it happened on Mystery Night.

When they decided to host a children's mystery, Roanoke Public Library examined a number of plays, but found most subjects too grim. Thus, they wrote their own script, loosely based on film noir, such as the Maltese Falcon. Their "artifact" would be the Hedwig owl from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. The premise? The library's director had connections in the film industry, and the animatronic owl was visiting the library as part of a tour.

Sixteen teen actors played the suspects. They attended a workshop to go over the characters and costumes, with enough extra parts that the actors could be spread about if some fell ill. Suspects included such characters as a former child star, animal rights activists who refused to believe that no animals had been exploited in the film, a librarian who collected owls, and a disgruntled patron. Each scene would be seeded with clues: criminal records, travel tickets, collectible owls, petitions, and the like. Every suspect had a motive, and the weight of the evidence could be arranged differently for different outcomes in case children attended a repeat performance.

The evening began with pizza and the Harry Potter movie. The actors got into place while the children were thus engaged. Miss Sob Story interrupted the festivities with news of the stolen owl. Detective Stumped explained that the library had been sealed until the mystery was solved. The young detectives were grouped into ten teams of four. Adult volunteers guided the children through ten separate scenes in turn, where the detectives could examine the clues and question the suspects. Each scene was interactive and improvised.

After an hour of investigation, detectives and suspects gathered in the meeting room, where the teams discussed clues and presented their conclusions. Once the guilty party was revealed and arrested, all participants received certificates and prizes. The event proved so popular that the library plans to host others in the future, possibly incorporating additional workshops for the teen participants, such as a writing workshop at which the next script might be created.

—C.A. Gardner, Hampton Public Library

Thursday, 2 p.m.

The Virginia Regulatory Town Hall

At the beginning of the presentation, Bobbie Denny, President of VALL, presented William "Bill" Shobe with the Public Access to Government Information Award (PAGI) from the American Association of Law Libraries. Former winners include the Government Printing Office (for GPO Access) and Library of Congress (for Thomas). Bill Shobe and his staff at the Virginia Department of Planning and Budget began "The Virginia Regulatory Town Hall" ( in 1999 with limited funding and lots of "sweat equity." Shobe states that the primary goals are "to provide a comprehensive regulatory participation website and to provide internal management and public access."

This award-winning website allows the general public to review regulations and proposed changes, find information about meetings and make online comments (login required). The search engine assists the public in locating regulations by subject, title, secretariat, agency or board. By the end of the year, Shobe hopes that guidance documents can also be added. These are not legal documents, but assist with interpretation or intent. Previously, guidance documents were difficult to obtain and often involved travel to agency storage sites.

Extremely helpful to new users is the online "Guide to Virginia's Regulatory Process" ( Shobe is also very proud of the "notification options" feature that alerts individuals to meetings and actions via email. He admits that some state agencies were initially wary of the web comment process, but are beginning to be very pleased with the results.

—Janet Justis, Old Dominion University

Thursday, 3 p.m.

Twelve (12) Again

Sue Corbett's first novel for young readers, 12 Again, earned distinction as an IRA Honor Book. Corbett shared her experiences as a writer and offered insight into the inspiration for her successful debut.

Corbett began her career on the other side of the desk—as a reporter and reviewer of children's books for the Miami Herald. When her family relocated to Newport News in 2000, the Internet made it possible to continue her column. Immersed in the world of children's literature, Corbett felt the best way to understand what makes a good book was to write one. Stanford University offered the chance to study creative writing when her husband won the Knight Fellowship, which allows spouses to take advantage of Stanford classes.

In the process, Corbett found the germ of the story that would become 12 Again. Faced with the ability to study anything she desired, she wished she could be an undergraduate again, with her whole life ahead of her. However, her high school career would not have enabled her to get into Stanford. Corbett speculated that she would need to go back to middle school to create the right academic background.

At the same time, Corbett was fighting to retain her identity amid the demands of two young children (soon to be three). This feeling inspired a short story in which a harassed mother of three, who sees her children wasting their lives, wishes in frustration that she might be twelve again, and do things "right." As the story became a novel, and Corbett delved into the character of the original protagonist's twelve-year-old son, Corbett realized something else—how difficult it really was to be twelve.

Corbett read a passage featuring one of her favorite characters—Mrs. Fitzjames, the school librarian, who helps the protagonist find the information he needs to fulfill his quest.

Mrs. Fitzjames was the most fun librarian Patrick had ever come across. She ran the library like it was a sports team. When a student found something he was looking for, Mrs. Fitzjames would do a little victory jig like football players do in the end zone after they score, or she'd give out a high five. Every Friday, she wore a jersey with her name and the numbers 411 on the back.

"Is that 411, like you call to get telephone numbers?" Patrick asked her once.

"Yes! 'Information.' Get it? Not only that, but 411 is the Dewey decimal prefix for books about the alphabet!" she said. "Isn't that a miraculous little coincidence?" Clearly, Mrs. Fitzjames loved her job.

Infused with the enduring love between mother and child and her own Irish heritage, Corbett's novel held such appeal it was requested by six of the eight publishers she originally submitted it to without an agent. Corbett now takes part in a writing group that meets in Williamsburg, and coaches a Battle of the Books team for Newport News. She is working on her next novel, The Scoundrel.

—C.A. Gardner, Hampton Public Library

Thursday 5:15 p.m.

VIVA Users Group

A late starting time did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm at this gathering recognizing ten years of success for Virginia's acclaimed electronic resources consortium. Kathy Perry, VIVA Director, began with a summary of the past year's activities. On the negative side, 172 Academic Press journals, five High Wire journals, several First Search databases, and a number of other resources were cancelled because of budget restrictions. Some other key resources were purchased from different vendors as VIVA made the most of its funding. Nature and the Nature Publishing Group journals were added this year, along with some Ulrich's products, so all the product news was not discouraging.

Perry reported on a number of VIVA-sponsored workshops that were well attended, and she discussed the Virginia Heritage project, the VIVA Serials Analysis Project, and the 10th Anniversary recognition. Winning the Governor's Technology Gold Award was VIVA's best public relations success of 2003, and Perry's explanation of the organization's record of cost avoidance made it clear that the award was deserved.

Ralph Alberico, VIVA Steering Committee Chair, then made an upbeat presentation on the ambitious plans for increased VIVA funding and emphasis on funds for private institutions. Alberico insisted that VIVA's story needs to be told to the legislature and the public. As he sees it, VIVA adds value to Virginia college and university resources, promotes cooperation among institutions, levels the playing field for smaller colleges, promotes resource sharing, and advances research.

The session then moved on to vendor presentations from representatives of Britannica, Lexis--Nexis, Cambridge Scientific Abstracts, Bowker/Ulrich's, Proquest, SOLINET, and Gale. All these visitors were put on the spot by the large and knowledgeable audience, and a very lively discussion of current shortcomings and forthcoming new features ended the program.

—Cy Dillon, Ferrum College

Friday, November 7, 8:30 a.m.

Unlocking the Door to Medical Information: Keys for the Non-Medical Librarian

Jonathan Lord of the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library at the University of Virginia organized his remarks around a recent Pew Research Center study ( that reports 80 percent of American Internet users have searched the Internet for information on at least one major health topic. Of these, 63 percent sought information on a specific disease or medical problem; 47 percent were interested in a certain medical treatment or procedure; 44 percent wanted information about diet, nutrition, vitamins, or nutritional supplements; 36 percent wished to learn about exercise or fitness; 34 percent desired information about prescription or over-the-counter drugs; 28 percent looked for alternative treatments or medicines; and 25 percent sought information about health insurance. The report also found that many Internet users felt they could not adequately locate needed information.

Lord covered key websites to assist both librarians and patrons in locating high-quality information. As a starting point, the MLA User's Guide to Finding and Evaluating Health Information on the Web ( provides information on evaluation criteria and links to important web-based healthcare resources. Two premier government sites are MEDLINEplus and Healthfinder. Organizations such as and www.mayoclinic.orgare also highly recommended. Dietary information may be found at the NIH Office on Dietary Supplements, the Harvard School of Public Health, and the Food and Nutrition Information Center. The FDA and National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine are excellent sites for information on drugs and complementary and alternative medicine. Toxtown is a new, fun, interactive site from the NIH that introduces users to toxic chemicals and environmental health risks they might encounter in everyday life. Last, but not least, is PubMed, the National Library of Medicine's MEDLINE database that indexes clinical journal articles back to 1953, with a growing number of full-text journal articles.

Lord closed by suggesting that users search Virginia medical library catalogs. UVA waives interlibrary loan fees for VIVA members. For questions, contact him at

—Karen Dillon, Carilion Health System

Friday, 8:30 a.m.

Archives in Cyberspace: Researching Historical Documents and U.S. Supreme Court Decisions Before 1990

When we search the Internet, we are often seeking current information. Rae Ellen Best and Allen Moye have put together "Archives in Cyberspace" (, a presentation that makes history come alive, providing access to documents, photographs and audio files in the study of American history and law. Best and Moye divided the session into four categories: legislative, executive, judicial and miscellaneous.

"Archives in Cyberspace" includes many well-known websites that have become standards, such as Yale's Avalon Project, Thomas, the American Memory Project, Ben's Guide, Core Documents of U.S. History and the websites of the United States House and Senate.

The University of Kansas' site, "Documents for the Study of American History" (, is a treasure trove of primary source material. The "Quick Find" feature allows users to browse by time periods. For instance, in the 1600s one can find the "Instructions for the Virginia Colony" and the first three "Charters of Virginia."

NARA's Presidential Libraries and Executive Orders websites offer full text, audio and photographs of former presidents from Truman to Bush (41) (

In most cases, the user will be directed to the presidential library site. For example, one can listen to Franklin Roosevelt's "Day of Infamy" speech and view the text of the Fireside Chats.

Northwestern's Oyez Project ( allows users to hear oral arguments in Supreme Court cases. Fordham University hosts a Medieval Historical Documents site at ( where users can review documents from the end of Rome to the Renaissance and Reformation. The most recent addition to the presentation is Harvard Law School's Nuremberg Project (

At these sites users can read, listen and learn.

—Janet Justis, Old Dominion University

Friday 9:45 a.m.

Lobby 101

Lucinda Munger-Kress of the York County Public Library, who has had considerable experience working in the national capitol, teamed with Emily Skeketoff of the American Library Association Washington Office to present the latest thinking in techniques for library advocacy. They brought and distributed copious handouts, including copies of the ALA Library Advocate's Handbook, and these items were very popular with the large audience.

Noting that librarians were not trained in advocacy in their graduate studies, the presenters made a case for informed advocacy by library staff and for recruiting community supporters as advocates. They emphasized the value of inviting legislators to local libraries and discussed the role library board members can play in influencing politicians at a variety of levels. Librarians and board members can have an impact by being visible in the community and by establishing partnerships with other advocacy groups. This aspect of the presentation was particularly interesting to a member of the board of the Richmond Public Library, and his questions were answered clearly and concisely. He was also very favorably impressed with the ALA resources for library advocates.

As informative as the session was, it communicated a certain cynicism about the current political climate that concerned members of the audience with a background in advocacy here in Virginia. One listener wondered afterward how it will be possible to cultivate a productive relationship with our state's conservative legislators with so much resentment of ALA positions expressed by conservative commentators and journalists. Building a nonpartisan approach to promoting libraries is a challenge that will be with us for the long term. We will need to use ALA's formidable resources with all the tact we can muster to build on the positive relationships VLA members have established and maintained.

—Cy Dillon, Ferrum College

Friday, 9:45 a.m.

So You Want to Build a Digital Library?

Rachel Frick, John Barden, and Liz Gushee of the University of Richmond and Jimmy Ghaphrey of Virginia Commonwealth University discussed what it takes to build digital library collections. The presenters provided examples from their own projects.

Rachel Frick began the program with an overview of the process at the University of Richmond. The university began its digital library initiative by forming a task force to coordinate the efforts of individual departments. Over time, the task force became a review board for projects. Frick described considerations in developing a digital library such as sustainability, costs, ownership of materials, and staffing. Frick reviewed several active and proposed projects such as World War I, World War II, The Collegian (student newspaper) and Civil War-era newspaper collections.

Liz Gushee spoke about the digital image collection started for the Art and Art History Department at the University of Richmond. Gushee described the components of the MDID system that was chosen to run the collection, then discussed workflow, standards, and rights management. Gushee emphasized the fact that the creation and maintenance of a digital collection are a cooperative venture between many individuals and departments.

Jimmy Ghaphrey provided an overview of the digital library at Virginia Commonwealth University, including a thumbnail sketch of the four projects that comprise the digital library initiative. These projects include rarely seen Richmond postcards, Through the Lens of Time, Oral Pathology, and VCU Historic Images. The project has already borne fruit: one individual who saw the Richmond postcards online proceeded to donate 3,000 more to the university.

John Barden concluded the program with helpful advice on the creation of digital libraries. Barden suggested beginning any effort with two questions: "Do we need to digitize?" and "What is unique about our collections?" Important points to consider are budget, the organization of the collection before digitizing, quality goals, the method of delivery, and promotion of the digital library. John Barden ended with the admonition to protect and update your digital library.

—Gregg Grunow, Newport News Public Library

Friday, 11 a.m.

Fedora and the Digital Library Architecture at the University of Virginia

Digital content projects on university campuses have grown exponentially over the last decade. Daunting not only in their number and scope, but also in the variety of their intended use, digital collections present a range of challenges to the academic library seeking to remain at the informational nexus of the university. Ronda Grizzle of the University of Virginia provided a description of the digital library at UVA and an overview of the evolution of the digital repository from an entrepreneurial model to the present university-wide structure. Grizzle also demonstrated the Fedora repository architecture software.

The Flexible Extensible Digital Object and Repository Architecture (Fedora), developed jointly by UVA and Cornell University, is an open-source digital object repository management system. Designed in response to the proliferation of digital collections on the UVA campus since 1992, Fedora integrates and upgrades the use of these collections on an enterprise-wide model. It provides an effective and efficient data management tool on a par with those used to organize physical collections and serves as the solid architectural underpinning for a digital library. Both modular and self-extending, Fedora facilitates content delivery, metadata management, and asset management. The software can be adapted and used in whole or in part to support a variety of applications, such as institutional repositories, digital libraries, content management, digital asset management, scholarly publishing and digital preservation.

Grizzle successfully straddled the line between the basic and technical levels, making this session valuable for both novices and those with greater experience in digital collections. She demonstrated some of the essential abilities of the software: to manage and manipulate data objects and create parent-child relationship metadata that lays the groundwork for building an information network. As Fedora continues to grow and evolve, it will help solve problems such as the acquisition of adequate storage space and the population of the central repository both through the production of new content and the migration of existing digital collections. Fedora project updates and system and technical documentation and specifications are available at

—Bill Fleming, George Mason University

Friday 1:45 p.m.

Public Library Issues in 2004

Susan H. Burton of Portsmouth Public Library and Paula Alston of Chesapeake Public Library facilitated a group discussion on the use of statistics as a tool in public libraries to improve support from local government and communities. Bibliostat is one successful tool for tracking statistics and charting trends.

The facilitators cautioned against estimating statistics. Estimates are dangerous because they tend to support expected outcomes, rather than accurately measuring data. For example, estimated visitor counts in one library that typically had low circulation were reported correspondingly low. When gate counters were installed, they proved that the library actually experienced large visitor use.

This led to a discussion of the value of Internet and electronic use statistics, believed to be on the rise but not typically reported as legitimate library use. Should libraries now be measuring use of electronic resources in addition to use of traditional print and audiovisual resources? If so, it is important to get the whole picture, including both remote (website) and local use (OPAC, databases, Internet and word processing computers, etc.) using server analysis software. In recognition of the value of access to electronic resources, should libraries also promote the market value of their services to the public? When the Downtown Merchants Planning Commission in Lexington looked at why people came downtown, it came as a surprise that the library was the number one reason. Perhaps public libraries should consider measuring and marketing their full array of services to remain viable alongside Internet cafes and bookstores.

There are still problems with using output measures for longitudinal studies as a management tool. Most libraries represented in the audience still collect output measures. Because these measures are not standard across libraries, they have limited value as a basis for comparison. It is also important to fully understand what is being collected and what additional factors may affect the numbers. For example, results can be misleading when a drop in library visits is interpreted as justification to close a facility—in fact, that facility may be so inadequate that it drives away patrons. Likewise, overcrowded bookshelves make materials difficult to browse, adversely affecting circulation, instead of giving it the boost one might expect from a higher number of volumes.

A free-form discussion followed. Public library issues and challenges included:

  • Increasing numbers of patrons speak English as a second language. Library instructions are typically printed in English. Solutions might include using to translate policies, and taking time to identity non-English language resource people among the staff.
  • Volunteer numbers are dropping. Solutions might include recruiting volunteers from among identified groups such as senior citizen groups, United Way, and community service groups, and students enrolled in work-study programs or courses requiring service units. Other alternatives include AmeriCorps, through which one might obtain a full-time worker for one year, and organized internships. Volunteer challenges include quality of work, volunteer preferences regarding task selection, and ensuring a return on the volunteer investment, given time spent in training and supervision and the possible devaluation of ongoing staff work.
  • A trend has been noted regarding a shrinking candidate pool for library jobs. Though a reason has not been determined, salary levels are suspected. In addition, experience requirements for jobs eliminate many candidates just out of library school.
  • Unattended children are a special problem for which it is difficult to determine a uniform solution. Policies and practices vary according to locale. Factors include library locality (urban versus other areas), maturity of the child (hard to assign an age-specific policy), and length of time a child is unattended.

—Amy C. Bond, Lonesome Pine Regional Library

Friday 1:45 p.m.

Library Records and the Law: How the USA PATRIOT Act and Other Laws Affect Us

Joyce Manna Janto of the University of Richmond presented a remarkably well organized and understandable summary of how librarians can do their best to protect patrons' privacy in a legal climate that is strongly influenced by our country's desire to have more security against terrorist operations. Janto, who holds both the MLS and a JD degree, began by explaining that Virginia's law on patron records excludes them from freedom of information requests, but that subpoenas and court orders have always been legal means to open those records to review.

Most of the concern about the USA PATRIOT Act has been related to its modification of FISA, or the Foreign Intelligence Security Act. This act, allowing easy and intrusive searches of records, has been extended to any business, including medical facilities. In conjunction with the USA PATRIOT Act it allows "sneak and peek" searches based on the discretion of a judge convenient to the investigator, and this new ability is not limited to investigations of terrorism. The line between national security cases and criminal investigations has been badly blurred. In addition, these new rules allow investigators easier access to email and telephone communications.

To respond to these new conditions, libraries should update and post privacy policies, train staff in how to respond to law enforcement requests for information, and review all policies and procedures with the library's attorney. A good rule of thumb is to avoid collecting any unnecessary information, and to make sure records are deleted or destroyed as soon as they are obsolete. The American Library Association's webpages include resources on protecting privacy at

—Cy Dillon, Ferrum College

Friday, 3 p.m.

Closing Session

The closing session began with a brief business meeting. VLA Secretary Susan Paddock presented the minutes from the VLA Annual Business Meeting of October 18, 2002. The minutes were approved. Andrew Morton presented a brief financial overview of the association.

Marianne Ramsden, Scholarship Committee, announced that the proceeds from the Scholarship Raffle totaled $1,240. She presented the VLA scholarships:

  • The Clara Stanley VLAPF Scholarship will assist Steve Litherland, Old Dominion University
  • VLA scholarships will aid Sherie Orton, Chesterfield Public Library, and Charles Hellin, Old Dominion University Doug Henderson, Intellectual Freedom Co-Chair, announced the Intellectual Freedom Award, given this year to Representative Rick Boucher. Since Mr. Boucher was unable to attend the conference, the award will be formally presented at another time. Sue Barton, Awards and Recognition Committee, presented the VLA awards:
  • The Trustee Award went to Betty Jane Simpson for her many years of service to public libraries, especially the Blue Ridge Public Library
  • The George Mason Award honored Linda Hahne, Executive Director of VLA

Morel Fry thanked the outgoing officers and committee chairs for their service and gave a brief report on VLA activities and accomplishments for 2003. She formally announced the creation of the VLA Foundation, of which Rita Mae Brown will be the first charter member. Morel passed the gavel to Sam Clay, incoming VLA President, who gave a brief preview of his agenda for VLA during 2004. He announced that the theme for the year and the title for the VLA 2004 Annual Conference (Williamsburg, October 28-29) would be "Defining Moments."

Morel Fry then invited us to meet Thomas Jefferson, the closing session speaker. Rob Coles, the fifth great-grandson of Thomas Jefferson, took the audience back in time as he assumed the persona of one of Virginia's most notable native sons. We heard Jefferson's words as he reflected on growing up in Virginia, his relationships with his father and other family members and friends, and his courtship and marriage to Martha on New Year's Day. We were present as Mr. Jefferson became involved in the politics of Virginia and the birth of a new nation. We sat beside him in the House of Burgesses as he listened to Patrick Henry's speech in response to the threat to dissolve the House, with its stirring conclusion, "Give me liberty or give me death!" Through Jefferson's words, one could appreciate the challenges faced by the early leaders of this country during the writing and adoption of the Declaration of Independence and the forging of the Constitution. Reflections on Jefferson's years in France, his presidency, the Louisiana Purchase, the Lewis and Clark Expedition and the vision and creation of the University of Virginia all contributed to the feeling of being with Jefferson during the early years of our history.

—Caryl Gray, Virginia Tech

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