Archive for April, 2013

What’s going on

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

A little randomness that may help explain why posting’s been even lighter than usual the past couple of weeks.

And if you get Marvin Gaye as an earbug–you won’t get an apology from me, as there are few better songs/singers available.

Oregon and Washington Librarians

I hope to see a few of you over the next few days. Later today, I’ll fly to Vancouver, Washington for the 2013 joint Oregon/Washington Library Association(s) conference, where I’ll do a three-hour preconference on open access and talks on “Give Us a Dollar…” and micropublishing.

OK, so I won’t actually fly to Vancouver. I’ll fly to Portland. And will probably spend longer on BART getting to SFO than I spend in the air. I love Livermore, but for flights–much rarer now than in the past–it’s less than ideal.

Preparing for Oregon and Washington

I’ve been busy preparing for those talks. Other than one talk last year, I really haven’t done much of any speaking, and I’d like to do a good job.

Actually, I started preparing quite some time ago–and preparations included a special Oregon/Washington version of Give Us a Dollar…, which I think is a good model of what I could do for other states/regions if anybody wanted it.

The link is to the free, $0, no-cost PDF version–did I mention you don’t have to pay anything for it?–that can be turned into a neat little booklet using a duplexing color printer and quick instructions here. There’s also a color hardcover edition–the book has multiline graphs that require color–but so far my own copy is the only copy, and that’s OK.

Preparatory work for the OA precon has resulted in two offshoots…

Hot Times for Open Access: The June Cites & Insights

When I devoted 60,000 words to OA in the January and February Cites & Insights, I thought I was done with it for the year. But the last few months have been unusually active–so much so that the June issue will be almost entirely devoted to another OA roundup.

Look for it some time next week, probably right around May 1 or 2.

But there’s also…

The Big Deal and the Damage Done

Working on the precon and the issue, I ran into another of those statements asserting that the Big Deal was a wonderful thing all around and that it essentially solved the serials crisis back in 2004.

Wayne Bivens-Tatum also did a nice blog post, “Politics, Economics, and Screwing the Humanities,” which reminded me of what was getting damaged if serials prices were still rising too quickly: Namely, the humanities (which still depend on books) and the flexibility of academic libraries to be anything other than licensing agencies. I suspected that the damage was complex, and decided to investigate just a little.

The result will be an ebook (and paperback book–while it has lots of graphs, I’ve designed them so they’re workable without color if need be), probably out in the first half of May. Several of the graphs prepared in the process will show up in the OA precon PowerPoints.

Portions of the book will probably appear in the July 2013 C&I.

It will be interesting to see whether the response is as overwhelming as it has been for this year’s two previous library-analysis pieces, the March issue and the May issue, which so far have substantially fewer downloads than other issues.

Oh, as to the apparent random use of indented quotations: Think of them as asides. Or not.

Cites & Insights Books: Links should now be correct

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

I was informed this morning that a couple of the links to Cites & Insights Books on my home page didn’t work.

(Thanks, Will!)

I had tested all of those links when I last updated the footer–which is supposed to be identical on the home page, at the foot of Cites & Insights, and at the foot of this blog. I would swear they worked then. But I tried to use shorter URLs (basically, and product=xxxxx) rather than the much longer IDs that show up in Lulu searches.

I guess Lulu really doesn’t like that. Or maybe Lulu wants you to start at in all cases (which does have the advantage that sales–such as the POURING code to get 15% off through Friday, April 19, 2013–will show up.


I’ve now replaced all of the short links with the long, long URLs.

I’ve tested all of them.

As of right now (1:40 p.m. PDT, Thursday, April 18, 2013), they all work.

The footers are identical on the three pages.

I hope they continue to work, but when in doubt, go to (with or without the www) and search for Walt Crawford; you’ll get all my books, including the hardcover Librarian’s Guide to Micropublishing, and one other book for which I wrote a preface.

Sorry if dozens of you were inconvenienced, or if even one of you was.



Three-quarters of public libraries are above average–and below average

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

Just for fun, here’s one of the stranger facts from “The Mythical Average Public Library,” otherwise known as the May 2013 Cites & Insights (links for both the two-column and one-column version are here).

There’s one derived measure for FY2010 for which both of these statements are true:

  • More than three-quarters of U.S. public libraries measure above average for the measure.
  • Just under three-quarters of U.S. public libraries (72.3%) are below average for the measure.

And it’s the same measure.

How is that possible? The first average is the national overall average for the measure. The second is the library average: The average of all library figures for this derived measure.

What’s the measure? You’ll find it on page 18 of the two-column version, page 37 of the one-column version.

I think you’ll also find the essay as a whole interesting and perhaps informative. Give it a try.


Washington & Oregon librarians: A reminder

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

If you’d like to have an autographed copy of the special hardbound edition of Give Us a Dollar and We’ll Give You Back Four: Oregon and Washington Library Benefits and Spending, you should probably order it in the next day or three: It typically takes a week and a half (or longer) for a hardbound version (the casewrap process seems to be the culprit). I’d be happy to sign your copy during the Oregon/Washington Library Associations conference–I’ll be there from Tuesday evening (April 23) through Friday morning (April 26).

Or, to be sure, you can download the free PDF version (did I mention free?)–and if you have a duplexing color printer (e.g., most cheapo multifunction printers) and a stapler with 4.5″ throat, you can produce your own booklet version. You’ll find instructions on that process here. Yes, I’d be happy to autograph those as well, but if you just download it to work with on an e-reader, I’d rather not deface ereaders…

I look forward to seeing y’all during the conference, possibly at the preconference on Open Access (with some last-minute research added) or at one or more of my other talks (one on micropublishing, one on Give Us a Dollar…). I also plan to be at part of the Meet & Greet, the Society Gaius session and the President’s Reception, and probably hanging around the Hilton for much of Wednesday and Thursday…


Kudos for great customer service

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

A few words about Amazon customer service going above and beyond…

We watch Grey’s Anatomy a season late, on DVD (‘cuz we started in late). We space things out, as we do with other TV-on-DVD series.

So Sunday night, we were at Episode 19 of Season 8. Ten minutes in, the dread digital breakup happens, followed by the dread freeze. I could skip 7 minutes and go on, but…nah.

Looked at data side of disc. Whoops: Two long scratches of exactly the kind that can disrupt playback–that is, more-or-less along the playing path (somewhat radial) rather than across it. In case of possible dirt, rinsed the disc. Nope: Still there, still wouldn’t play.

[I normally do a visual check and spot playback check for each disc of a new season or collection when it arrives. In this case, GA’s been reliable enough for seven seasons that I either didn’t bother or didn’t do a sufficiently careful visual check.]

Here’s the thing: We purchased the season in November 2012 from Amazon. WAY past the return window.

Well, I thought, we can hope that either Amazon or Buena Vista Home Entertainment will be kind enough to replace the disc. Otherwise, we can finish up the current Stargate SG-1 disc (watching that from Netflix on disc) and get the GA disc from Netflix…but, really, we want a clean copy, since eventually we’ll rewatch this. After all, we own it.


Yesterday (Monday) morning at 7:30 a.m. I wrote two emails. One to Amazon, noting that this really wasn’t their problem (after all, 5 months…) but wondering whether there was anything they could do (and noting the original order #, readily available on my account page). One, with some difficulty, to an email address that seemed to be attached to BVHE.COM, the only Buena Vista site I could locate that has anything to do with DVDs. (The ABC site lacks any DVD info and just does autoresponses if you do send email.) It seemed that I needed to register, a process clearly not intended for consumers.

Then here’s what happened:

1. Within two hours–TWO HOURS–I got a response from Amazon saying they’d send a replacement (the full season: that seems to be the only way they can do it) by two-day shipping (I’m not a Prime member).

2. Later that day, I got a response from asking for details for registration–who at Disney referred me, what stores do I buy for–that made it clear the site wasn’t for me. So I responded appropriately.

3. But very late that day (or early today, Tuesday), I also got a response to the email saying the person would forward it to Buena Vista’s customer support–which I still don’t see how to reach directly.

4. This afternoon, I got email from Buena Vista customer support asking me to call to discuss the problem. BUT…

5. By that time, our mail had arrived. With a package from Amazon. Via good old USPS–one day after I’d asked about the problem.

So: I’ve checked the replacement Disc 5, which is absolutely clean; put it in our existing set and put the bad disc in the new set (with a sticky note on the outside wrapper noting the defect); printed out the return label; and prepared the package for return. Which I’ll do tomorrow.

Based on the eventual response from Buena Vista Home Entertainment, my guess is that they would have replaced the defective disc. The main problem there is that I still can’t figure out how you’d send them notice of a defective disc.

But Amazon…came through rapidly, politely, and way beyond what they needed to do.

Count me impressed.

[Amazon was similarly impressive and rapid in replacing, sigh, the entire monster West Wing Complete Series because the set was missing one disc entirely–but that was during the 30-day period, actually a day after it arrived.]

Reason I may yet write that stats/numbers book, #346

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

It’s just a little item in the April 2013 Fast Company, over in the bottom-left corner of a page, about the sales of steel wallets—mostly (I think) sold to people who are worried about RFID chips in their smart credit cards or passports being read.

Here’s a rough version of the graph that appeared with the piece:

When you see that, you’d tend to agree with the text of the article: “But apparently, the freak-out has already faded.”

But the graph is showing percentage increase in sales, year-over-year.

So, just for fun, let’s assume that 100,000 wallets were sold in 2006 (the actual number doesn’t matter) and draw a new graph using exactly the same data:


Now, does the assertion in the text seem quite as valid?

No? What? You say “Damn—those are pretty fast sales increases since 2009”? Well, you’re not Fast enough for FastCo.

Of course, there’s another aspect of this: We don’t know what the baseline for 2006 was–and percentages don’t mean much without a baseline. For all I know, maybe steel wallets were such a novelty item in 2006 that only 100 of them sold…which would make 2012 sales 1,905 and that Ginormous Jump from 2008 to 2009 an increase of…well, 675 wallets. Whoopdedo.


50 Movie Comedy Kings Disc 12

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

Meet the Mayor (aka A Fool’s Advice), 1932, b&w. Ralph Ceter (dir.), Frank Fay, Nat Pendleton, Edward J. Nugent, Ruth Hall, Berton Churchill, George Meeker, Hale Hamilton, Esther Howard, Franklin Pangborn. 1:03.

I’m guessing this is another case where if you know and love the main character, Frank Fay, you’ll find it hilarious. I don’t and don’t, and I found it mostly sad. Fay plays a schlemiel—a sad little man whose only job has been elevator operator in the (apparently city-owned?) hotel in a seedy little town, who lives in the hotel, owns a bicycle and apparently not much more, but is sort of a Mr. Fix-It for all and sundry. Including helping out his best friend, who’s inventing a new & better cylinder recording/playback device. And who has the same girlfriend Fay’s character thinks he has.

The title refers to a mayoral election—where the 20-year-in-office mayor, again one who’s only had the one job—is up against a wealthy person who actually wants to sell out the town to the railroad. Through a series of plot points, the new recorder winds up recording the bigshot talking about his plans with the three thugs he’s brought in (thugs who don’t actually do much of anything). Fay’s character blackmails him into quitting the race, and at about that time finds out that his “girlfriend” is engaged to his best friend.

All pretty sad, actually, unless you think the character is a hoot. Unfortunately, I just found him sad and a little depressing. Franklin Pangborn’s always good, but he only has about three minutes on screen. The other (original) title is one of Fay’s catchlines. Being generous, $0.75.

When the Girls Take Over, 1962, color? (b&w). Russell Hayden (dir.), Robert Lowery, Marvin Miller, Jackie Coogan, James Ellison, Ingeborg Kjeldsen. 1:20.

A revolutionary comedy! Of sorts… Set in Hondo-Rica, a Caribbean nation trying to gain investors to produce all sorts of things out of sugar cane (since the sugar itself is a glut on the market, but with a threatened Cuban-style revolution. Of sorts… The revolutionary forces consist of Maximo Toro, the Big Bull, a mustachioed-and-bearded young revolutionary; his American writer/thinker/sidekick (who misses his girlfriend); maybe half a dozen reasonable well-trained and armed sidekicks; and perhaps four dozen lazy soldiers armed with wooden sticks (for the moment) and missing women.

This revolutionary force turns out to be no match for a Texan oilman (young and handsome) who’s already been nationalized out of a bunch of countries and who doesn’t want it to happen this time. He somehow manages to gather a bunch of women, buy a whole fleet of jeeps on the spot, and let loose these women—armed primarily with bottles of rum—on the revolutionaries. That’s just part of the plot in what’s mostly a helter-skelter madcap comedy. Not terrible, but far from great.

IMDB says color, and given that it was filmed in “Virgin Isle” and Puerto Rico and has loads of scenery, it would be a whole lot better that way—but the sleeve says B&W and that’s what the picture actually is. (Since the uniformly-negative reviews on IMDB also all say they saw it in B&W, I’m guessing any actual color prints are long gone.) I’ll give it $1.00.

Too Many Women, 1942, b&w. Bernard B. Ray (dir.), Neil Hamilton, June Lang, Joyce Compton, Barbara Reed, Fred Sherman. 1:07.

A madcap comedy involving a young man, the woman he’s engaged to (but too poor to marry yet) and two former or would-be girlfriends. There’s also a probably-crooked land promoter who wants him to sell land; to get rid of the pest, he claims to have just inherited a fortune. As that news spreads around town, he somehow winds up engaged to three people, on a drunken spree—and totally broke, except for a $1,000 bet on a longshot horse. His grandmother, supposedly at death’s door, is part of this. There’s even a butler. The last 20 minutes is pure traditional farce.

I guess it was mildly amusing, if maybe a little incoherent. For fans of this genre, maybe $1.00.

Flying Wild, 1941, b&w. William West (dir.), Leo Gorcey, Bobby Jordan et al. 1:04.

No. Sorry, but I couldn’t. I gave it 25 minutes, which is about 20 more minutes of Leo Gorcey and the East End Kids than I can normally stand. This time, there’s domestic espionage, “un-American activities” and a flying ambulance service involved, and the rest of the East End Kids are working (but Muggs don’t work, it ain’t his thing, he’s an overage JD and proud of it). And…I just couldn’t. No rating. What a sad way to finish up a 50-movie set.

Summing Up

Three movies I gave a full $2 for: Never Wave at a WAC, Nothing Sacred and The Perils of Pauline. Two almost-classic $1.75 flicks: The Milky Way and Three Husbands. Three pretty good ($1.50), three decent ($1.25) and six mediocre ($1) add up to $23.75 for this half—and that doesn’t include two movies I’d already seen on other sets. If you’re really generous, you could count the three almost mediocre $0.75 flicks and the single barely-watchable $0.50—and, of course, if you like the East End Thugs, that would add a bit. Since the 50-pack currently goes for $14.75 at Amazon, that’s not bad. Oh, and, of course, there’s the first half, where the total of mediocre-or-better flicks came out to $26, for a 50-pack total of $49.75. Not bad.

Wyoming public libraries

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

The last post commenting on Chapter 20 of Give Us a Dollar and We’ll Give You Back Four (2012-13)–now available as a $9.99 Kindle ebook or $21.95 paperback with ISBN 978-1481279161 on Amazon, along with the usual Lulu options. Note that Lulu prices for the paperback and hardback versions are now lower.

Wyoming’s 23 libraries (none omitted) are mostly fairly well funded, with two-thirds spending $43 or more and only five libraries (22%) spending less than $36 per capita. None of the libraries circulate 24 or more items per capita, but 70% circulate at least six (compared to 50% overall). Patron visits are also strong, with 57% of the libraries reporting at least seven visits per capita (compared to 33% overall).

Program attendance is strong, with 74% of the libraries reporting at least 0.5 attendance per capita (compared to 33% overall), and PC use is strong, with 57% reporting 1.7 uses per capita or more (compared to 30% overall).

Libraries by legal service area

LSA Count %
2,250-2,999 1 4.3%
4,000-5,299 1 4.3%
5,300-6,799 1 4.3%
6,800-8,699 4 17.4%
8,700-11,099 1 4.3%
11,100-14,099 3 13.0%
14,100-18,499 2 8.7%
18,500-24,999 2 8.7%
25,000-34,499 3 13.0%
34,500-53,999 3 13.0%
54,000-104,999 2 8.7%

Circulation per capita and spending per capita

Circulation per capita correlates strongly (0.68) with spending per capita.

Circulation per capita plotted against spending per capita

Circulation per capita (rounded) occurrence by spending category

In looking at this mostly-useless graph, note that there are no Wyoming libraries spending less than $17 per capita.

Cites & Insights May 2013 (13:5) available

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

The May 2013 issue of Cites & Insights (volume 13, number 5) is now available for downloading at

[If you want a shorter URL, will also work.]

The two-column PDF version is 28 pages long, The 6×9″ single-column version, designed and optimized for e-reading, is 60 pages long.

Unless you plan to print out the issue, the single-column version may be preferable: the issue includes 31 graphs, each of which is nearly twice as large (40% wider, 40% taller) in that version, frequently with more detail.

The issue consists of one essay:

Libraries: The Mythical Average Public Library

There is no such thing as the average library. That may be obvious–but you might be surprised at just how far away from average most measures for most libraries are. For that matter, for any derivative measure, which average is average?

This essay discusses averages and a few low-level statistical terms, then shows where American public libraries stand–not only for 2010 (the most recent IMLS data) but for changes from 2009 to 2010. I believe you’ll find it revealing and interesting.

Announcement links now go to the home page, where I hope you’ll note “Pay what you wish” before going on to the issue itself.

Speaking up for Edwin Mellen Press

Monday, April 1st, 2013

There’s been a certain amount of uproar of late regarding the innovative publicity and reputation-building practices of Edwin Mellen Press. (I’ve included a few examples. It’s really not difficult to find others.)

Digression: Apparently DuckDuckGo doesn’t build a URL when you search it from a Firefox search box: You get DuckDuckGo with the search box filled in, which I can’t really link to.

I believe there’s a misunderstanding here. So I’m not going to suggest anything as craven as boycotting Edwin Mellen Press, or signing petitions, or removing its titles from library approval plans (if they’re already there) or applying some scrutiny to acquisitions from Edwin Mellen Press.

Not at all.

I think innovative work should be rewarded.

If you’re an academic librarian–heck, if you’re a public librarian–I think you should explore Edwin Mellen Press’s innovative, forward-looking actions. If you find them remarkable, innovative and worth rewarding, you should do so.

Please do read this post carefully.