Archive for December, 2005

Midwinter C&I get-together: Suggestions for place?

Monday, December 19th, 2005

In this post I suggested the possibility of a wholly informal get-together for C&I readers at ALA Midwinter: No host, no agenda, just a few people for drinks (your dime) and chat.

There’s been enough positive response to say It’s going to happen.

The time: 5 p.m. Monday, January 23, 2006

Update January 9: The place: The Menger Bar. Slightly more details here.

The place: Somewhere on or near the Riverwalk–some place that (a) sells drinks, including decent white wine, (b) isn’t likely to be wholly overrun on Monday afternoon at 5 p.m., (c) isn’t so noisy that an informal group of, say, three to eight people (?) can’t carry on decent conversation.

So here’s where I could use your help, particularly if you live around San Antonio or have been there recently:

What would be the best place to hold this, given that I wasn’t planning to make any real arrangements (such as actually calling the place)?

I’d originally thought of Lone Star, which used to sell good Texas Chardonnay (yes, there is such a thing, or at least there used to be–Llano Estacado, for example) by the glass–but their current wine list doesn’t include such listings, and reviews of the place are so mixed that I don’t know what to think.

[Hmm. Now that I do a little web browsing, I think I was thinking of Republic of Texas, not Lone Star. That’s still a possibility.]

The Menger Bar has been suggested; Menger Hotel is a block from the Riverwalk (and next door to the Alamo), and the bar is probably San Antonio’s most historic (Teddy Roosevelt recruited his RoughRiders there…)

Other possibilities: Boudro’s (which does have some name-brand Texas wine), Rio Rio/Naked Iguana Lounge, Mi Tierra…

Advice? Recent experience? “That place is so noisy you’ll die” or “The waiters are rude and the prices are high” or “Hey, you forgot this one” would all be helpful–either as comments here or as mail to me, waltcrawford at You don’t need to be planning to make it to the event to offer help!

And if I don’t get good advice, it will boil down to Republic of Texas, Boudro’s, or the Menger Bar, I think…

Cites & Insights: Surveying volume 5

Sunday, December 18th, 2005

For those of you who don’t read Cites & Insights, and I’ll have a post Real Soon Now about the growing interdependence of the journal and this blog, and why you should read it–you can skip this long post if you like. (So can everyone else, of course…)

This piece would have appeared in “Bibs & Blather,” the “editorial” section of C&I (and also the alternate title of the journal, partly as a reminder to me not to take it too seriously), in previous volumes. There may be more like it: Informal analyses of how the journal fits together and apparent readership.

In past volumes, I’ve tended to look at full and partial pages. I’m not sure why; they’ve always been stored as Word documents, and nothing’s easier than highlighting part of a Word document and getting a partial word count. That’s what I did this year–partly because the typography changed in February 2005, partly because another change late in the year can result in quite a few more words per page. (Best example: the Mid-Fall Issue was theoretically the shortest of the year, at 20 pages–but in fact has more words than seven other issues.)

The volume contains a total of 244,065 words, not including overhead (table of contents, masthead, headers, footers). I checked wording on each story and prepared a spreadsheet categorizing stories by the traditional C&I sections and, in some cases, by what seemed like sensible groupings. Here’s the spreadsheet (just the summary columns) if you want to play with it yourself (although I can’t imagine why).

Here’s what I conclude about volume 5, and it’s not quite what I would have thought without doing the measurements:

  • Going by the topical divisions I used, coverage was reasonably varied, with–and this really is a surprise–blogging being the single largest topic (13.5% of the total), with copyright close behind (12.9%).
  • After that, the “top ten” are filled out by Google and OCA (9.3%), C&I itself (8.7%), library futures (8.1%), Library Access to Scholarship (7.6%), Trends & Quick Takes (6.5%), net media other than blogging/Google/OCA (4.7%), Bibs & Blather (4.5%), and “offtopic perspectives” about old movies on DVD (4.4%).
  • Censorware got short shrift for obvious reasons (0.4%), and there was only one “disContent” reprint and expansion (1%); two other traditional sections also barely appeared–ebooks & etext (1.1%, unless you include Google/OCA) and The Good Stuff (1.8%).
  • The “reporting” experiment accounted for 2.5% of the volume.

In the middle were sections such as Interesting & Peculiar Products (3.4%), The Library Stuff (3.3%), PC Progress (2.7%).

You could group these in different ways: Arguably, 27.5% of the volume was about net media (including Google, OCA, and blogging), 22.2% was copyright-related (if you include Google and OCA), and 16.9% was access-related (again including Google and OCA). How much was directly library-related? I’d argue at least 35%, but you could slice that several different ways.

[If you find numbers adding up to more than 100%, that’s exactly right, because I logged some essays under more than one category. The biggest percentage in the spreadsheet is for Perspectives, with 45.7% of all words, but that’s meaningless.)

I’d love to do a five-year trend analysis (obviously, discussion of net media has increased enormously in the last two years, for example), but it turns out to be more work than the results may deserve. Last year was more varied than I thought, and that’s a good thing.

As for popularity, I might take a closer look at that later, after a full scan of all C&I logs (on the current server) takes place. For 2005 readership, one thing stands out immediately: “Investigating the Biblioblogosphere” was read far more widely than anything else (with the highest issue readership and an independent HTML readership much higher than any other essay), with the possible exception of issues or essays that have been copied to other websites (which has happened in the past and is perfectly OK, but makes readership measurements impossible).

50-Movie All Stars Collection, Disc 4

Thursday, December 15th, 2005

Yes, it’s that time again: Four tv movies–and I’m afraid three of these four fit that label a little too well. As usual, when there’s a bracketed running time, that’s what’s actually on the disc–and it’s at least a minute different than what IMDB reports.

Love is Forever, 1983, color, Hall Bartlett (dir.), Michael Landon, Edward Woodward, Jürgen Prochnow, Laura Gemser, Priscilla Presley. 1:36 [1:31]

Based on the true story of John Everingham (Landon), a newsman in Laos accused of spying, imprisoned, and deported—who goes back across the river to rescue the native Laotian woman he loves. Good cast, reasonably well acted. Unfortunately, the color is odd (and sometimes fades to black and white), the sound isn’t always great, and there’s some damage as evidenced by five missing minutes. $0.75.

Betrayal, 1974, color, Gordon Hessler (dir.), Amanda Blake, Dick Haymes, Tisha Sterling. 1:14.

What a disappointment. I was really looking forward to this one, based on the sleeve blurb and cast: “The story follows the case of a woman who claims to have been forced into a sexual relationship with her psychiatrist, under the pretext of its therapeutic value. When the police try to investigate, they find their inquiries face many obstacles.” Leslie Ann Warren, Rip Torn, Richard Masur, Ron Silver. How can you go wrong: Any movie with Rip Torn and Leslie Ann Warren and Ron Silver must be worth watching!

Only one problem: That’s the 1978 TV movie Betrayal. The 1974 teleflick that’s actually on the disc is, despite Miss Kittie’s presence (as a tough middle-aged widow who hires a young woman as a companion—but the young woman’s part of a con-artist couple…), a disappointing mess. Some decent acting, but damaged and generally incoherent. I felt a little betrayed. $0.

Intimate Agony, 1983, color, Paul Wendkos (dir.), Anthony Geary, Judith Light, Mark Harmon, Arthur Hill, Robert Vaughn. 1:35.

Sure, it’s a TV-movie cast, but a good one—and Robert Vaughn is his villainous best as a real-estate speculator doing his best to make sure that Paradise Isle doesn’t get tagged as having Social Diseases while he’s trying to build and sell upscale condominiums. Anthony Geary is the hot young doctor who takes over Arthur Hill’s practice on the island for the summer, and finds himself dealing with a fair amount of genital herpes among the residents, and Vaughn (and colleagues) don’t want to hear about it. Nothing special, but not bad as disease-of-the-week movies go. $0.50

The Disappearance of Flight 412, 1974, color, Jud Taylor (dir.), Glenn Ford, Bradford Dillman, David Soul, Guy Stockwell, Greg Mullavy. 1:12.

How do you make a UFO movie without UFOs? In this case, three dots on a radar screen seem to do the job. A crew goes up to diagnose electrical anomalies in a radar setup; they get the three dots; fighter jets scramble—and disappear. Then the flight is diverted to “Digger Control,” where the men are “debriefed” for 18 hours—apparently to convince them that they want to say they didn’t see a thing. Deep, serious narration, Glenn Ford doing his best Glenn Ford impression, a solid cast. No action to speak of, lots of talk, and strong intimations of government suppression of UFO sightings. $0.75

Speaking fees: This one really isn’t my fight

Wednesday, December 14th, 2005

When Jenny Levine expressed some frustration at ALA’s policy regarding speakers at ALA conferences who are ALA members–that is, no expenses, no free registration, nada–I commented that this wasn’t unusual for a professional assocation, and that I thought it made sense in terms of conflict of interest. You can see my comment among the growing multitude of comments, but here it is as well:

It’s a standard ALA policy that members of the organization can’t be paid for speeches at ALA conferences (that are part of the conference proper). That’s probably true of many organizations, as it’s fairly basic conflict-of-interest stuff. I think it’s a necessary ethical policy, in fact.

I suspect you’d find the same to be true of ASIST, for example, and probably most state library associations.

In other words, you’re not paying them to present at their conference–you’re paying them to attend your conference. If it’s “them,” then you’re not a member–and you should not only get in free, you should probably receive some compensation (not that I want to get PLA in trouble…). (At least, I’d demand a full-conference registration–but that’s me.)

I’m no Jeff Jarvis or Jenny Levine. I know damned well that if I’m not able or willing to participate, they can find someone else who can do just as good a job–particularly on a panel. And I’ve turned down a couple of invitations where the finances didn’t make sense.

You can read the whole sequence of comments. One person seemed to assume that I speak because of submitted proposals (never the case, at least in the last 10 years). Marydee Ojala confirmed that many (most?) professional associations bar expenses, honoraria, or freebies for internal speakers as a matter of policy. I see talk of petitions, suggestions that invited speakers are the only programs that conferences have (which has almost never been the case for state and national library conferences that I’ve attended), and so on and so on.

Lots of other bloggers have commented as well–including some of those who are “on the speaking circuit,” which I’ve never been and don’t want to be.

What I’ve learned from what I’ve seen yesterday and today (not including posts since 9 a.m. this morning, which I’ll read after posting this):

  • Quite a few frequent speakers apparently pay their own way–their own travel costs, hotel expenses, etc.–and do this quite a few times a year.
  • Some of the frequently-invited speakers don’t expect or get honoraria and pay their own way.
  • Although I haven’t seen it stated, I can only assume that some people work at places that don’t mind having them gone a very large percentage of the time–and it sounds as though some of them even get (limited) travel support for those speaking engagements.

All of which leads me to believe that I really have no business arguing for or against policies in today’s field, because I’m so out of touch with what’s going on, and likely to stay that way.

It’s not that I haven’t spoken. You can check my full vita here or (for PDF-haters) a selective vita here. When it says “[Invited]” that’s what it means: I did not submit a proposal, I wasn’t part of a planning process, I certainly don’t have an agent drumming up possibilities (all of my speeches put together might add up to one speaking fee for a “name” speaker, or they might not).

If it says “[Invited]” and it wasn’t in San Jose, Palo Alto, San Francisco, or somewhere else within about 45 miles of Mountain View (or during ALA, Midwinter, or the Charleston Conference), you can bet that whoever I was speaking to paid full expenses: travel (flights and ground transportation), hotel and meals (usually for the full conference, if it’s a conference: I try to attend the whole thing), registration. Most of the time, there was also an honorarium: not enough to get rich on, but maybe enough to cover a little of the vacation time and preparation time. After various extended negotiations due to misunderstanding, I’ve even put together a page laying out expectations for speeches.

That’s apparently peculiar for those who want to be known as speakers these days. Apparently, if you’re to be established as an Expert or as the Go-To Guru on a topic, you need to go for it–spend your own money and your own time so you can speak ten, fifteen, twenty times a year.

Maybe I was lucky. I never particularly thought of myself as an Expert on any topic, at least not enough of an Expert that you’d automatically invite me to speak on it. And I’ve never been in a position where tenure was a possibility or where professional speaking and writing had a direct impact on my job performance ratings or salary. So I had no particular motivation to beat the bushes for speaking invitations.

I had almost 14 good speaking years, some of them years when I turned down invitations because I was unwilling to be gone any more often (or work was reluctant to have me out too often, although that’s never been a huge issue). Invitations have declined recently, and that’s OK too.

I can only think of one or two cases where I turned down an invitation because of the size of honorarium or lack thereof, although one association made expense reimbursement so unpleasant–and generally was such a hassle to deal with–that when I was invited the next year I simply turned it down without further discussion. (Not a library association, fortunately–one in a semi-related field.)

In any case, I clearly don’t understand the dynamics of today’s frequent speakers, which means I don’t understand the dynamics of the whole speaker/conference situation these days. I don’t plan to change my own patterns; although I love state library conferences and the like, I don’t love them enough to subsidize them.

So I’m backing off on this discussion. Those who are on the speaking circuit (or who want to be) and those who rely on “circuit speakers” for their conference programming should debate the issues; I’ll lurk on this one.

A little travel music

Tuesday, December 13th, 2005

Four little items, all travel-related. Make of them what you will:

  • Four out of five Americans don’t have passports. That means they’ve never been outside the country, except possibly to Canada or Mexico. For that matter, some Americans who have passports don’t use them. Travel broadens the mind wonderfully–but then, I’d guess a significant percentage of Americans (and much higher percentage in some other countries) never travel more than a hundred miles or so from where they were born.
  • We’re all tourists–as at least one travel writer has said, breaking down the snobbish distinction between (mere) tourists and Travelers. Unless you’re actually going to live in another country, it’s an arbitrary distinction. The rest of us our tourists, whether we wear the silly clothes and offend the people we visit or whether we try to enrich our lives by seeing what’s there to be seen and appreciating the differences in people and places.
  • True story: A California couple—a California couple!–was turned away when they wanted to board the plane to fly to their cruise in French Polynesia. One of the two said: “Nobody told us we needed a passport to cruise French Polynesia.” (Actually, I find it extremely unlikely that any cruise line cruising French Polynesia doesn’t have explicit statements in its brochures and travel packets that passports are required–most of them require you to send in your passport number before tickets are issued–but it’s possible that the travel agent didn’t explicitly read those instructions on the phone.) I wonder where in the U.S. this California (California! As a native, I’m stunned…) couple thought they were going on a nine-hour east/southeast flight?
  • “That’s the men’s room, Margaret.” I wrote that down in my little notebook one evening on Crystal Harmony, somewhere in Alaska, in one of the public spaces. And yes, Margaret–a wee bit older than I–was headed into the inappropriate facility. It took three times, but her companion managed to steer her toward a more suitable room. I thought there might be a story there, but maybe not…

[Alternate name: Clearing out the “blog possibilities” notebook.]

Not snubbing, just shy and zoned out

Monday, December 12th, 2005

A separate post, because it has nothing to do with what yesterday’s gathering was about, but:

I have learned that I may have inadvertently ignored someone during the schmoozing part of the celebration, in a manner that must have looked like a snub. I suspect I’ve done the same at other gatherings.

That was not my intention. I was either zoned out (which happens), hard of hearing (which is true), too intent on who I was listening to (which happens a lot), or otherwise just…well, not quite with it.

I’m a shy person [true–I frequently find it hard to mix at parties because I don’t want to intrude on conversations, for example]. I’m afraid that makes it easier to be a little withdrawn in social gatherings.

So if I ignored you, I’m sorry: It was definitely not intentional.

And, of course, I’ll try to do better in the future–but I’ll sometimes fail.

Celebrating the life of a friend

Monday, December 12th, 2005

Yesterday was the celebration of Ilene Rockman’s life. (See here and here for background, including a growing number of personal tributes from those who knew her.)

It was a wonderful event. I learned much more than I’d known about just how special (and impressive!) Ilene really was, to an astonishing range of people. I’m guessing that 150 people were there, maybe more, but she touched thousands of lives for the better.

I’ve been thinking the kind of semi-deep personal thoughts that the holiday season causes in some of us, including the issue of how people interpret the Universal Ethical Guideline, that is, treat other people as you would have them treat you.

There are those who turn this into “Get other people before they can get you.” That’s just sad.

A little less sad and a lot more common (and I’ve been guilty myself) is “Treat other people as they have treated you.”

The best, I believe, must be one of Ilene’s possibly-unstated rules to live by: “Treat other people better than you’d expect them to treat you, and at least as well as you could hope for them to treat you.” She did. It’s a guideline for more of us to aspire to.

I’ll never aspire to Dr. Ilene Rockman’s energy, expertise, or graciousness. I can try to aspire to her ethical standards, but it’s not easy. It was an honor to know her.

Midwinter get-together?

Saturday, December 10th, 2005

For Cites & Insights readers only:

Are you going to be at ALA Midwinter in that best of Midwinter cities (personal opinion, to be sure), San Antonio?

Want to get together for a chat and a drink (no-host) to celebrate a half decade of C&I?

If so, let me know (comment here or mail me, waltcrawford at

If I hear from at least three or four of you by January 5, I’ll suggest a place and time.

I don’t expect a big response, and I’m not sure how we’d handle that–it’s easy to find a place where 4 to 10 people could gather; 20 or more is tough without formal arrangements, which I wasn’t planning to make.

Time would probably be Monday afternoon between 5 and 6, or something like that; I haven’t put together my schedule yet, but Saturday and Sunday afternoon and evening tend to be pretty crazy, particularly when San Antonio is the site.

I have no idea what the location would be except “On or near Riverwalk”–which covers a lot of territory even within a ten-minute walk of the Convention Center. I was thinking of Lone Star Cafe only because they used to serve some decent Texas wines, but they seem to have dropped the Chardonnays at least. If there’s a response, I’ll do a little checking (or one of you who’s been in San Antonio recently might have a suggestion).

No pressure; there are way too many things to do at Midwinter, way too many things to do in San Antonio, and lots of you probably fly home Monday evening.

I tried something like this four years ago; the two of us who were there had a great time. For two, I’ll skip it, but for a few (probably anywhere between 3 and 10 responses–I’d be astonished to get more than 10) it might be fun.

Update and apology: I hadn’t intended to publish this until I reviewed some stuff; I hit Publish instead of Save yesterday. One paragraph has been removed–but if you know what it is and you’re actually interested in the “bribe” just let me know.

Second update, December 19: Since there will be at least three of us there, the event’s on, Monday at 5, and now I need to decide on a place. This post–whoa! #200!– offers some suggestions and asks for help and advice.

Third and final update, January 9: The time is still Monday, January 23, at 5 p.m. The place is the Menger Bar, in the Menger Hotel. Slightly more details here.

Not a Library 2.0 post

Thursday, December 8th, 2005

I’ve been biding my time–both here and at Cites & Insights–about discussing “Library 2.0.”

There are several reasons for that, and those reasons have shifted in the past few days, where I’ve seen several thoughtful posts about Library 2.0 from people other than Library 2.0 Advocates. (Apologies to all those I didn’t link to: This is just a tiny convenient selection.) (Many of the posts from Library 2.0 Advocates and advocates–there’s a difference, which I won’t get into here–are also eloquent, thoughtful, worth reading–but they’re not hard to find, and I’m not much of a linker in general. TTW would be one of several places to start…)

On one hand, I don’t really enjoy being called a naysayer, I don’t really enjoy confrontation, and I have no desire to discourage enthusiasm for new ideas and services.

On the other hand, I am seeing a certain degree of “or thinking” going on, and the term itself draws a circle: This is Library 2.0, and everything else is Old Hat Library 1.0. Since I firmly believe this is all a continuum, and I’m not that fond of disruptive thinking and the ease with which people can be labeled as Luddite/old and ready to be put out to pasture/whatever, this is troublesome. I continue to believe that words and names matter, and wonder whether the rallying virtues of “Library 2.0” outweigh the confrontational drawbacks. “Wonder” in this case really does mean “don’t yet have any firm opinion but am continuing to read, explore, and think”

On the gripping hand, I see a growing number of explicit “middle people” getting involved, trying to make sense of all this from an and, not or perspective, and am encouraged by this–and wonder whether it doesn’t make sense for an “accidental elder” like me to just stay out of the discussion for the moment.

So that’s what I’ll do for now. Some day soon, maybe, I’ll have something semi-coherent to add to the discussion, and will do so either here or in my primary outlet.

“Eventually, these book people will be dead.”

Wednesday, December 7th, 2005

“Eli: most of the library leadership in this country have a book fetish, and you have to pander to that to get the money; this isn’t a loss leader; eventually, these book people will be dead”

Honest to Gaia, I didn’t believe I’d read that the first time, here in one of Jenny Levine’s first-rate posts about the Gaming Symposium.

But there it is.

And I thought the “Library 2.0” meme was getting a touch confrontational! Still, I’ve never heard a Library 2.0 advocate comment that eventually, these Library 1.0 people will be dead…

It’s true, of course: Eventually we’ll all be dead. Not something I’d usually use as an argument or something to celebrate, but I wasn’t there and don’t know the context.

I was pleased to note that George Needham quoted my so-called ideas directly at one point and indirectly a couple of other times. Of course, eventually I’ll be dead too…