Archive for November, 2013

Making Book 14. First Have Something to Say

Friday, November 29th, 2013

Four years between Future Libraries: Dreams, Madness & Reality and Being Analog. Four years between Being Analog and First Have Something to Say. Sort of a slowdown from the 11-books-in-9-years pace before those books, and that was probably a good thing.

In the 1999-2003 period, I was doing lots of other things. How much? Well, you could look at my vita:

  • In 1999, I had four articles published in American Libraries, two articles and three columns in ONLINE, eleven “Crawford’s Corner” sections in Library Hi Tech News, six “CD-ROM Corner” columns in Database (first half of the year) and its successor, EContent (second half of the year), along with an ITAL article and one in Media Spectrum.
  • In 2000, I had three articles and guest-edited a section in American Libraries (I guest-edited and wrote the introduction for a theme section on the future of ILL, which strikes me as mysterious even now), did one article and three “PC Monitor” columns in ONLINE, six “CD-ROM Corner” columns in EContent, the last ten “Crawford’s Corner” sections in Library Hi Tech News—and the first issue of Cites & Insights. There were also a handful of pieces in other publications, including a guest editorial in ITAL.
  • In 2001, I had six articles (three with a running title) in American Libraries, three “PC Monitor” columns in ONLINE, ten “disContent” columns in EContent, and thirteen issues of Cites & Insights.
  • In 2002, I actually had a column in American Libraries, with eleven columns published that year—along with a dozen “disContent” columns in EContent, three “PC Monitor” columns in ONLINE, fifteen issues of Cites & Insights and a couple of other things.
  • And in 2003, I had eleven “The Crawford Files” columns in American Libraries, eleven “disContent” columns in EContent, three “PC Monitor” columns in ONLINE and 14 issues of Cites & Insights.

2003 and 2004 were the peak of my column writing, I believe: the American Libraries ended in November 2004 after reader surveys and other editorial decisions.

Somewhere in there, I wrote this book, subtitled “Writing for the Library Profession.” Portions of it were based on American Libraries articles and, in one case, on a “disContent” column. It’s shorter than most of my earlier books (141 6″ x 9″ pages) and I believe it’s one of my best-written and most useful. If you haven’t read it, you should: I believe it’s still in print.

One indirect effect of doing this book: I did not do camera-ready copy (or prepare a PDF), partly because I’d given up on Ventura Publisher (the Corel-owned Windows version was unstable, in one case nearly preventing me from finishing a project) and Dianne Rooney didn’t feel that MSWord (at the time) offered sufficiently high-quality typography. Her choices for the book were Berkeley Book for the text and Benguiat for the headings. I was delighted with the results—so delighted that I eventually paid for a license to download and use Berkeley and Berkeley Book, which were neither among the typefaces that used to come with MSOffice or Windows or on the brilliant 500-typeface Bitstream CD-ROM that used to ship with Corel Ventura Publisher. It was money well spent; Berkeley and Berkeley Book are among the best serif typefaces I’ve ever seen, and I continue to use them for Cites & Insights (now Berkeley—Berkeley Book was a little light for C&I) and some self-published books.

Crawford, Walt. First Have Something to Say: Writing for the Library Profession. Chicago: ALA Editions, 2003. ISBN 0-8389-0851-9 (pbk.)

Because anecdata

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

That title is too short, but then this post is pretty short.

The newish use of “because” as a preposition is being discussed. I like it, when used appropriately. I’ve even used it. As a prescriptive old fogey when it comes to language (well, sometimes), I’m happy with this–because concise.

Here’s another one that won’t make it, but maybe should:

But anecdata


However anecdata

Mostly interchangeable, and used to summarize the counterarguments you see to well-done survey results, especially when the results are at odds with whatever Today’s Common Wisdom is. And the counterarguments against strongly-established scientific theories/facts.

You’ve seen them. “I know surveys show 90% of people do X and Y and Z, but my acquaintances all think alpha, therefore X and Y and Z are wrong.”

In other words, “Yes, you have overwhelmingly strong evidence, BUT ANECDATA.”

Prime recent examples? Those who are absolutely certain that The Kids These Days Don’t Read Print Books…because their kids, or at least two kids they know, prefer tablets.

Or, for that matter, the pundits who tell us that nobody borrows books from public libraries anymore, because their drinking companions don’t.

It won’t catch on, but it’s useful, noting that “But anecdata” is another way of saying “in response, I got nothin’.”


Making Book 13: Being Analog

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

I failed to mention a couple of things when discussion Future Libraries: Dreams, Madness & Reality. To wit:

  • While I prepared the camera-ready copy, that happened after careful discussion and negotiation with the designer at ALA Editions, Dianne Rooney, to arrive at mutually-agreeable layout and typeface decisions and details.
  • Art Plotnik approved and shepherded this project. At some point, I started working with Patrick Hogan, who I consider a friend as well as colleague and who I’ve worked with on a number of projects since (including an already-contracted future project). I should note that friendship has never prevented Patrick from turning down a project that didn’t make sense for ALA Editions, which is as it should be. (And that I had long since forgiven ALA Editions for turning down MARC for Library Use—that was under a long-since-retired acquisitions editor.)
  • If you’re wondering why I use the subtitle for that book whenever mentioning it, it’s because another book entitled “Future Libraries”—really a collection of essays not primarily by librarians—came out around the same time.

So how did this book come about—four years after Future Libraries: Dreams, Madness & Reality was published and five after it was written? From the preface, following a paragraph on the earlier book and my belief that it continued to be “a vital treatise on what libraries should and should not be”:

The glory days of the all-digital brigade are in the past. Within librarianship, the peak may have been 1990-1994. Since Future Libraries, visions of virtual libraries seem to be fading away. Some futurist voices continue to argue for the death of print and the convergence of all media, computing, and communication. The narrowness and emptiness of these projections are becoming apparent to most people.

But still they come. Some librarians still assert the all-digital future, either as a desirable goal to be worked for or as a tragic inevitability. Some politicians and campus officials still move to dilute or deny funding for libraries because they have been told books are disappearing. Librarians must still cope with these harmful, limiting attitudes.

Later, I ask: “If we’re not bound for a new paradigm and we can’t plan for an all-digital library—then what do we plan for, and how do we think about the medium-term future?” This book, based largely on my speaking and writing about these topics between 1993 and 1998, was an attempt to help answer those questions.

In some ways, this book was my sequel to Future Libraries: Dreams, Madness & Reality, but in a very different way. I believe it was a very good book (but then, I would, wouldn’t I?). It did reasonably well, although not nearly so well as the earlier book (but then, I didn’t have Michael Gorman as a coauthor!). One way to compare the two is to look at citations, as recorded in Google Scholar. As of Tuesday, November 26, 2013, Google Scholar shows Future Libraries: Dreams, Madness & Reality with 318 citations—and Being Analog with only 48. (If you’re wondering: MARC for library use has 61—well, actually 92 split between the two editions, Cites & Insights 6.2 (Library 2.0 and “Library 2.0”) has 101, and “Paper Persists: Why Physical Library Collections Still Matter,” published in Online, has 51.)

I prepared camera-ready copy for this one as well, this time using Arrus BT from Bitstream as a text typeface and Friz Quadrata BT as a heading typeface. Yes, I really do like Friz Quadrata for headings… The book is 245 6″ x 9″ pages.

I need to read the book again, maybe next year on its 15th anniversary. I’m afraid that the first paragraph quoted above may have been too optimistic, but maybe not.

Crawford, Walt. Being Analog: Creating Tomorrow’s Libraries. Chicago and London: ALA Editions, 1999. ISBN 0-8389-0754-7 (pbk.)

Making Book 12: Future Libraries: Dreams, Madness & Reality

Monday, November 25th, 2013

It wasn’t the first speech I gave. It was actually the 21st. But it was the first case where the people inviting me—Arizona State Library Association’s Library Automation Round Table—didn’t have a specific topic in mind.

I did. From my preface:

Over years of reading, listening, and thinking, I had been aware that some silly and simplistic visions about the future of print and libraries emerged from time to time. More recently, such visions seemed to come from supposed leaders in the field and to be accepted by some librarians as “inevitable,” without the librarians thinking about the bases for the visions and the consequences of the dreams. Their catchphrases—virtual library, universal workstation, buying back our own research, death of print—began to seem menacing as well as annoying, particularly when I began to hear of libraries with needed expansions threatened by people saying “but five years from now, there won’t be any books to put on those new shelves.”

I gave a speech entitled “The Death of Print, Xanadu, and Other Nightmares, or, Brother, Can You Paradigm?” in October 1992 at AzSLA. It was well received.

I gave a few more speeches on various aspects of these problems (think people in 1992 weren’t already proclaiming the inevitable death of print books within five years? think again!) and noted some striking essays and articles in the area by Michael Gorman. We exchanged some notes—as my preface says, “(via Internet e-mail),” and concluded that a joint project might make sense.

This book was the result. Oddly enough process of writing, editing, layout and revision (yes, I prepared the camera-ready copy using Ventura Publisher, this time with Zapf Calligraphic—Hermann Zapf’s own rethinking of his classic Palatino—and Friz Quadrata for headlines) was done entirely by physical mail and email; we used diskettes to exchange files and email for discussion. We met twice face-to-face during the process (at Midwinter and Annual 1994) but didn’t work on the book during either meeting. (This may seem odd, given that we were only about 172 driving miles apart at the time, but we never saw the need to arrange joint working sessions.)

Even at the time, it was slightly odd that I was coauthoring a book with Michael Gorman. Some years earlier, he had written a column that hurt me and everybody else at RLG—not surprisingly, since he was arguing that the organization should be shut down. In later years, his views moved sufficiently apart from mine that, while we discussed a second edition at one point, it’s hard to imagine that I would do something like this with him again. At the time, though, it made sense.

The book was a major success, and I’d like to think that it moderated—at least for a while—the absurd claims that print was on the verge of disappearing and that the networks of the time could really provide viable replacements for traditional media and libraries. We still get absurd claims, but at least based on more robust technology, and I think there’s more of a tendency for librarians to shout “Bullshit” (or some polite equivalent) when it’s being spread.

This was the first book I did through ALA Editions—the first publisher we approached.

Crawford, Walt, and Michael Gorman. Future Libraries: Dreams, Madness, & Reality. Chicago and London: ALA Editions, 1995. ISBN 0-8389-0647-8 (pbk.)

Making Book 11: The Catalog Collection

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

This book—yes, it was a book, ISBN and all—was ahead of its time: It would have been much more plausible to do a few years later.

On the other hand, I’m not sure it would have made any sense a few years later. In retrospect, it probably didn’t make any sense even at the time.

I believe there are something like 36 or 48 copies of this in existence. (WorldCat shows 19 libraries holding it). The even dozen number has a reason…

The Catalog Collection was a supplement to The Online Catalog Book (see previous post) with nearly twice as many screen shots, some of them reproduced at larger size. It was published as a three-ring binder—a three inch three-ring binder—intended to be updated annually. That never happened, for any number of good reasons. It was brutally expensive ($150 or $135 for LITA members)—but that’s mostly because it was brutally expensive to produce. To wit:

  • I prepared the camera-ready pages (as I did for The Online Catalog Book).
  • Since I expected to have additions, etc., each chapter had its own page numbers, with the table of contents just listing the chapters.
  • To make the book a little more manageable, each chapter began with a separate page, printed on gold paper, consisting of the chapter number, name of the catalog, and name(s) of the contributor(s).
  • I prepared a dozen copies by having a local copy shop copy all 840 bloody pages onto three-hole paper (duplexing for the chapters, single-sided for the gold separators: I did the collation afterward), creating a huge stack of paper, then collating the copies and putting them in the three-ring binders, inserting the cover and spine sheets, boxing them and mailing them to LITA headquarters. LITA actually handled distribution, for a cut of the price.

I must have thought this was an important project; it certainly made no sense in terms of revenue per hour. If it had actually been successful—if we’d sold, say, 100 to 200 copies and seen the need for updating—it would have been too much to handle.

Did I mention (in discussing the other book) that I provided suggested records and searches to the contributors, to provide some level of comparability among systems? I did, and they did.

Anyway: The great ungainly beast didn’t do very well. All things considered, that was a very good thing.

I was going to say “with Lulu, it would have been easy”—but that’s not quite true. The thickest 8.5″ x 11” book Lulu will produce is 740 pages. I would have had to break this down into two volumes. (Given that Lulu normally uses 60lb. paper, the equivalent of 24lb. copier paper, a 740-page limit isn’t unreasonable: That’s a very thick book, more than 1.5″ thick not including cover. The contents of The Catalog Collection‘s three-ring binder are more than two inches thick.)

This was also the last book I did for a couple of years. That’s not surprising.

Crawford, Walt (ed.). The Catalog Collection. Chicago: LITA (distributor), 1992. ISBN 0-8389-7594-1. Published by arrangement with G.K. Hall. Limited edition.

Walking half a mile to school

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Today’s paper (yes, it’s still the paper, even if I read it on a Kindle) has the usual weekly “what’s not working” feature.

This time, it was a particular city bus line (not my city) that is apparently somewhat unreliable at one particular time of weekday mornings.

The problem? If the bus wasn’t there, some kids would have to walk to school. A school described as “more than half a mile away,” which presumably means less than two-thirds of a mile away.

Half a mile? Really?

I’m not inclined to say anything negative about today’s kids (although this may be about today’s parents). There may be many reasons why we seem to be suffering an explosion of overweight, getting even worse among younger folks. But one reason is probably a general lack of ordinary exercise–like, for example, walking.

Half a mile at my full walking pace is an eight-minute walk. But I walk fast. Let’s say 12-14 minutes. I’m guessing that’s less time than it takes to stand there waiting for the bus, ride the bus, and walk to school from the bus stop. And, while it’s not a lot of exercise, if done twice a day it’s more than a mile, which is at least a decent start.

This is where I should bemoan that when I was growing up we walked three miles each way to and from school, in the snow, uphill in both directions. That isn’t true, of course. I lived fairly close to my elementary school–more than half a mile but probably less than a mile. A little bit of downhill going, uphill coming back, but not enough to be significant. (The daily “walk around the block” my wife and I take–every day except hiking Wednesday–includes a *lot* more and steeper uphill. It’s also around 1.3 miles.) Never, ever in the snow: In the nearly 16 years I lived in Modesto, it only snowed once with the snow sticking for more than an hour, and I was a high school senior at the time.

Half a mile (or “more than half a mile”) is really too far for schoolkids to walk? That seems sad.

Making Book 10. The Online Catalog Book

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

This (full title The Online Catalog Book: Essays and Examples) is the last book I did for G.K. Hall, the only book I did with them that was 8.5″ x 11″, the last book of mine that appeared in both paper-wrapped hardcover and paperback—and the only book of mine that Hall published that probably never earned out its advance (modest though that was). It was also one of two books I’ve done where I wrote a relatively small portion of the book (although, in this case, it was enough to constitute a book-length manuscript in today’s terms): the first 129 pages of a 546-page book.

Five years ago, a book like this would have been nearly impossible to prepare; five years from now, it may be easy. At present, we’re somewhere in the middle: It wasn’t easy, but I hope you’ll agree it was worthwhile.

Libraries have increasing opportunities to make their online catalogs work and look the way they would like (and that will serve their patrons). Libraries can certainly benefit from a range of examples to see what’s possible and how it seems to work. From a user’s perspective, the online catalog is the set of available screen displays: that’s where the user and the system connect.

Remember that this was 1991-1992: most online catalogs either used PCs as terminals or could be used on PCs, so screen-capture software made it possible to grab screen images—but it was also very early in the development of the web, with no graphical browsers yet available (Mosaic showed up in 1993). Nor were most online catalogs available remotely to anyone interested in looking at them—at that point, it wasn’t easy to confuse the internet and the web.

I thought it might be plausible to update Patron Access: Issues for Online Catalog and add a substantial appendix showing a few screens from each of perhaps two dozen catalogs. I verified that nobody else had plans to gather together screen images from a wide range of catalogs and proposed a book. Originally, the expectation was that it would be a 6″ x 9″ book with 150 to 200 pages of my text followed by 250 to 300 pages of contributions including 400 to 500 screen shots covering perhaps two dozen online catalogs.

A call went out on PACS-L for volunteers. (Remember PACS-L, the Public-Access Computer Systems list?) I got more than 20 responses including several locally developed catalogs (remember when libraries developed their own online catalogs?). I also prepared a list of 42 vendors offering online catalogs and sent letters out to all of them for which I didn’t already have contributors. “Several vendors responded; many did not.” A second mailing brought a few more responses—but more than half of the supposed catalog vendors, including a few that at the time regularly advertised in the library press, never responded in any way, not even to say “we’re not interested.”

I finally identified 42 contributors representing 40 different systems (and two very different versions of each of two systems). Thirteen were library-developed; the rest were commercial. Since I couldn’t establish a rational basis for rejecting half of the possibilities, G.K. Hall agreed to a larger page size and more pages, and I gave up on updating Patron Access, instead providing a series of informal essays on catalog design issues, leaving three-quarters of the book for examples.

Ten contributions didn’t arrive (people change jobs; crises arise; priorities changes). The balance of systems changed: The book finally included seven locally developed systems and 25 commercial systems, including two CD-ROM products and systems ranging from ones running on a single PC or Mac to some very large multicampus systems.

After an ordeal of coping with a variety of screen capture programs and the resulting output (things were a bit less standardized 22 years ago!), I managed to put it all together. A quote from the preface: “There were times—as I was trying to find a workable graphics conversion routine or appropriate reproduction scale for certain screens—when I began to question my sanity in taking on this project. That question has no easy answer, but the remarkable variety of interesting contributions that emerged did keep me going.”

This was definitely a book of its time. The first 12 chapters were informal essays (by me) on various aspects of online catalog design, ending with the information for contributors (they got a set of instructions, including a suggested list of areas to cover in screen shots). The remaining 32 were contributions, each on a specific online catalog, with some introductory comments by the contributor(s) and a series of screen shots. The 32 systems were arranged alphabetically—from The Assistant as used at Arkansas Supreme Court Library (The Assistant was a commercial online integrated catalog designed to operate on single microcomputers or networked workstations) through Winnebago CAT, Winnebago Software’s online catalog system. In most cases, there were a couple dozen screen shots.

This was a massive book. Text was set in two columns of 10-point type, so there was a lot of text on each page; most figures were reproduced three to a page, except for a few cases where half a page was needed for clarity.

I suspect some of the advice in the first 12 chapters continued to be useful; some might still be. I discussed user-centered design, coherent interface design, the common command language (for good reason, many of the catalogs back then were at least partly command-driven) and a range of other topics.

But Wait! There’s More…

Most contributors submitted quite a few more screens than would fit in the book if it was to be publishable. Most readers wouldn’t need to see all the screens—but I thought a few vendors, consultants and libraries might find them valuable. So, with G.K. Hall’s permission and the cooperation of LITA, I prepared a companion publication that included (gasp) more than 1,400 screens in more than 840 pages. But that’s #11, an ambitious plan that was both before its time and pretty much too late. More on that later.

Crawford, Walt (and many contributors). The Online Catalog Book: Essays and Examples. Professional Librarian Series. New York: G.K. Hall, 1992. ISBN 0-8161-1996-1. ISBN 0-8161-1995-3 (pbk.)

Making Book 9: Technical Standards, Second Edition

Monday, November 18th, 2013

With MARC for Library Use, the virtues of a second edition were clear: the book was widely used, format integration made a big difference, there was lots of new material to cover—and a 6″ x 9″ book is generally more readable than a single-column 8.5″ x 11″ book.

With Technical Standards: An Introduction for Librarians, the case wasn’t quite so clear. The first edition did well but was no best-seller. The underlying information hadn’t changed all that much.

On the other hand, the book was a few years old and—as founding editor of Information Standards Quarterly—I was now much more familiar with NISO’s structure and workings. People within NISO argued for revising the book rather than withdrawing it, and G.K. Hall agreed.

The new version omitted the discussions of selected ANSI X3 standards that were in the first edition—but also, unlike the first edition, discussed every NISO (Z39) standard, including draft standards and standards under review for revision or deletion.

The book appeared in 1991 (sleeved hardcover and paperback) and was current through early 1991. I produced the camera-ready pages in Zapf Calligraphic using Ventura Publisher. It did acceptably well, as I remember. My involvement in technical standards started waning about that time; no third edition was plausible.

Crawford, Walt. Technical Standards: An Introduction for Librarians, Second Edition. Professional Librarian Series. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1991. ISBN 0-8161-1951-1. ISBN 0-8161-1950-3 (pbk.)

Making Book 8: Desktop Publishing for Librarians

Friday, November 15th, 2013

From book lists and flyers to newsletters, signs, and annual reports, librarians produce a variety of written materials. Until recently, the primary options were the office typewriter and the commercial typesetter—one offering the advantages of economy and control, the other a polished, attractive product. Now, using the tools and techniques of desktop publishing, librarians can have the best of both worlds. They can gain control over the design and typesetting process, save time in the editing and revision cycle, and even save money.

That’s the first paragraph on the inside front leaf of the jacket for this book (another one with a book jacket for the hardcover—I haven’t had many of those!). It’s a fair capsule version of why I wrote this book and G.K. Hall published it: There was an opportunity to improve librarians’ capabilities, and I thought I could help.

Desktop publishing first really made the scene in 1985, but at the time it required not only a Mac but also an expensive LaserWriter. I worked out something more cost-effective (and not requiring a Mac) and naively called it “desktop typesetting”—it’s what I used for the LITA Newsletter early on. I even prepared a booklength manuscript on desktop typesetting. Quoting from the preface:

The manuscript was rejected. What I had overlooked (or chosen to ignore) was that the methodology required for desktop typesetting was too cumbersome for most users and, more importantly, that desktop publishing would almost certainly migrate from the Macintosh to other platforms and come down in price.

Thanks to a small software company called Ventura and a surprisingly good marketing decision by Xerox, the migration to the PC happened—in a way that has brought the virtues of a competitive marketplace to the desktop-publishing field. Prices for desktop-publishing systems have come down; the capabilities of medium-priced systems have improved considerably; several digital type foundries offer hundreds of typefaces at varying degrees of cost, ease of use, and typographic precision and results.

In 1988, I converted the LITA Newsletter from desktop typesetting (and, frankly, I no longer remember what that cumbersome process involved—the manuscript has long since disappeared) and started the new, desktop-published, Information Standards Quarterly for NISO. I also used desktop publishing techniques to produce MARC for Library Use, second edition (see previous post).

I also began to see more ways libraries could use these techniques as my wife became library director at a small college library, and became convinced both that desktop publishing could serve all but the smallest libraries—and that librarians could benefit from a book on the subject written from a library perspective. So I wrote it. Naturally, I also produced the camera-ready copy, again using Ventura Publisher and Zapf Calligraphic.

The book consists of three parts with 14 chapters (plus fairly extensive back matter):

  • Uses for desktop publishing
  • Document design and production
  • Tools for desktop publishing

The book appeared in 1990. I believe it was timely. It did fairly well. I trust it was useful for libraries and librarians.

There’s an appendix on production methods which I find particularly interesting as it speaks to the time. I wrote and produced the book on a 12Mhz. 80286-based “AT clone” with 640K of RAM, a 40 megabyte (38ms. access) Seagate hard disk, an 11″ Samsung amber monochrome monitor, a Logitech P7 mouse, a Logitech ScanMan handheld scanner and an HP LaserJet Series II laser printer with a megabyte of added RAM to hold more typefaces. Note that this was still an MS-DOS system; Ventura Publisher ran under the GEM bit-mapped display interface and cheaper software came with its own display software.

Rather than an annotated bibliography, I had a bibliographic essay discussing books and magazines on desktop publishing, including hints for selecting from among the many books then being published on the topics and reviews of a dozen or so books and four magazines.

I suspect that some of the material on document planning and design is still useful. Otherwise, this is very much a book of its time—before Windows became usable, before bitmapped graphics became universal, before truly powerful computers were really cheap and truly powerful printers were even cheaper. I mean, think about the system I used—which I believe cost several times as much as the five-year-old notebook I’m writing this post on. The cheap old computer I’m using now has roughly six thousand times as much RAM, runs at about 166 times the raw speed (but the Core 2 Duo is a multiprocess and far more efficient for each cycle than the 286), has just over 6,000 times as much disk space and drives a dual-display system with no added hardware or software.

To say nothing of typeface quality, availability and flexibility…

And, to be sure, I “stepped back” from separate desktop publishing software to MSWord—both because the Corel versions of Ventura Publisher that ran on Windows became more and more unstable and because MS Word has become more and more capable for publications. It was all I needed for The Librarian’s Guide to Micropublishing, and a whole lot easier to use.

Crawford, Walt. Desktop Publishing for Librarians. Professional Librarian Series. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1990. ISBN 0-8161-1929-5. ISBN 0-8161-1930-9 (pbk.)

This one looks better than I expected

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Lulu had a creators-only sale a little while back, letting us order our own publications for a hefty discount (creators only pay production costs anyway, but this was quite a bit lower).

I lucked out in one sense: Cites & Insights 13 (2013) — which is pretty spectacular, and a real bargain — was ready to go just in time to get the discount.

I also used the discount to buy a copy of The inCompleat Give Us a Dollar and We’ll Give You Back Four–which I hadn’t purchased yet. It’s big (425 pages, 8.5″ x 11″), essentially the same size (thickness) as C&I 13.

Both books arrived today.

I’m blown away by how well inCompleat came out. Of course I’d seen all the pages on the screen as I was working on them, albeit never a full-size version of the cover (a wraparound cover with a two mosaics of public library website images), but seeing the real thing is a revelation.

The tables are considerably easier to read than in the original Give Us a Dollar (larger type, considerably wider). The scatterplots and other graphs are much nicer than I expected. And the combination of text, tables and graphs works really well.

I’m trying to avoid flogging this, but I have to admit, if you want the detailed view of public library benefits and budgets provided for 2010, I think this big paperback is the way to go. ($4 to $1: Public Library Benefits and Budgets is better in some ways and more up to date, but it’s also a less detailed breakdown–and at this point, it’s beginning to look unlikely that Volume 2, libraries by state, will ever appear. The equivalent is included in inCompleat as pages 225-415.)

Just sayin’: It came out better than I expected, and I think it’s a useful book.

And don’t forget: From now through Friday, November 15, coupon code CORNUCOPIA gets you 20% off.