Talking Greenbacks

Birdie posted on Friday after the end of banker's hours on the eastern coast of the United States that Free Library of Philadelphia is preparing to close. The library itself notes that these preparations are due to the lack of state budget being passed. Reuters reports that a tentative budget deal has been reached but the budget is over two months late this fiscal year. It appears that Philly Free is not engaging in a marketing ploy but may quite honestly be about to run out of cash to pay staff and keep the utilities on as they've had to seemingly rely on a year-to-year carry over funds balance to run their institution.

While this should be an isolated incident, it is not. A local library near the LISTen eastern operating site, Harbor-Topky Memorial Library, is getting set to go to the polls in November to fight for its existence. The library is now only open four days per week, lost four employees, and has no guarantee that funding from Ohio state-level authorities will ever increase. Unfortunately the story by Stefanie Wessell on this is not available online but my copy of The Gazette -- Ashtabula/Geneva Edition is at hand to work from.

The library is seeking a 5-year, 2 mill operating levy in November. Such local funds may be quite necessary as the state's budget was balanced based on the assumption of revenue coming from yet to be installed video slot machines at Ohio's seven race tracks. The New York Times notes that gaming revenue is declining while WKSU notes none of those race tracks has even applied for a slots license yet. The biennial budget deal may wind up having to be revisited if this third of the budget's assumed revenue disappears. An editorial by The (Dover-New Philadelphia) Times-Reporter relayed by the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette explains how large the stakes are in Ohio if this goes awry.

These are merely two cases. There are likely others out there. Are your local libraries being impacted by today's omnipresent economic psychosis? Do you need to practice talking to a radio host prior to going live on local radio stations to advocate for your library? Contact the podcast team and let us know as we may be able to help. Clicking the Google Voice button below is likely the easiest way to reach us at the moment:

Blackberry distractions?

I'm a Blackberry fan. I don't do much texting on it, but just the other day I brought it to a faculty meeting so that I wouldn't have to print out a pile of documents or struggle to read the notes and attachments on the projector. It is so ingrained in the faculty that cell phone use during class is a disraction; I wondered if any in the group thought that I was up to no good?

It was interesting to read about reactions to Representative Eric Cantor's use of his Blackberry. I know that there are certain expectations of congressional members at presidential speeches and other functions, and I'm not comparing a faculty meeting to the President's address, but perhaps Cantor was actually doing what he said he was doing:

"Cantor said he was reading excerpts of Obama's speech on the BlackBerry and taking notes as he did so".

More at the Richmond Times-Dispatch

Utah State University's OpenCourseWare Project shuts down

The Utah State University OpenCourseWare project has shut down because it ran out of money, making it perhaps the biggest venture to close in the burgeoning movement to freely publish course materials online. The project’s director was laid off on June 30th and while the Web site remains up for now, it no longer has any dedicated staff and is no longer adding new courses.

Interdisciplinary Sharing: A Special Post

Sometimes pieces are solicited for LISNews. The recent LISNews Summer Series is an example of that. Below is a piece from openSUSE community manager Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier that is a bit of interdisciplinary sharing of experiences as some public libraries are getting ready to go to the polls for tax levies in a couple months.

When working on a marketing campaign, you may suffer the temptation to "go negative" and go on the attack against something rather than using a positive message for your point of view. We see this frequently in political campaigns, and it's occasionally effective -- but should be avoided when you have alternatives.

Case in point: recently, the Free Software Foundation (FSF) set off on an anti-Windows campaign called "Windows 7 Sins". The campaign is higly negative, and completely disregards its target audience.

It's relentlessly negative. It offers few, if any, alternatives. It doesn't consider the perspective of the "average" users who don't view software as an ethical consideration. It's like a PETA campaign, but based around software. While I may agree with some of PETA's goals, the tone and general negativity push me away -- and so does this.

The FSF has many, many positives that can be used to "sell" the concept of free software. Instead, the organization is taking the lazy approach and hoping to play off of users' frustration with Windows to lure them to free software. All well and good, except that this doesn't persuade the audience that free software is something to be desired, only that Windows is something to be avoided.

Not only is the message wrong, but it's also delivered in a ham-fisted and generally off-putting way. The site looks like something thrown together by a fringe political group. The political fringe approach is hardly going to appeal to the mainstream audience that the FSF is trying to reach. Love or hate Microsoft, it has (more often than not) been successful in persuading its audience to keep consuming its software by selling the benefits of its products.

An effective counter to this would be to look at the negatives that the FSF has identified, and craft a positive message that addresses the same issues -- but with an entirely different tone. If the organization has identified issues that users care about, it will be far more succesful if the FSF helps tell the audience how to solve their problems.

To be fair, negative messaging does work sometimes -- but on the whole, it should be avoided as much as possible. Convince your audience of your positives, and you'll have a far stronger reaction than persuading your audience that the alternatives are to be avoided.

Creative Commons License
This work by Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Kennedy's Posthumous Memoir Goes on Sale Sept. 14

"Ture Compass", the autobiography by Sen. Kennedy, who died on Aug. 25 at age 77, adds little to what is known about the Chappaquiddick accident and its aftermath but recounts how they weighed on him and his family. The book does not shy from the accident, or from some other less savory aspects of the senator’s life, including a notorious 1991 drinking episode in Palm Beach, Fla., or the years of heavy drinking and women-chasing that followed his 1982 divorce from his first wife, Joan.

But it also offers rich detail on his relationships with his father, siblings and children that round out a portrait of a man who lived the most public of lives and yet remained something of a mystery. Among other things, it says that in 1984 he decided against seeking the presidency after hearing the emotional objections of his children, who, it says, feared for his life.

A copy of the 532-page memoir, scheduled for sale Sept. 14, was obtained by The New York Times. It was published by Twelve, an imprint of Grand Central Publishing.

An Oddball Notion

Left-wing pressure group Color of Change has had a boycott campaign running against right-wing talk personality Glenn Beck. So far it is claimed that multiple advertisers have yanked their ads from Beck's television on Fox News Channel although reportedly no ads have been pulled from the syndicated radio show, the magazine Fusion, or the website. While Beck's ratings remain high, the prices for ads are likely becoming depressed.

Already seen on LISNews today was a link to a blog post concerning an ad by legal materials publisher West. In that ad, West stated that if you know your librarian on a first name basis you are spending too much time at your library. Between that ad campaign and the situation at Fox News Channel, a golden opportunity exists.

What would it take for the American Library Association to break from past ad campaigns to do something new? What would it take to get the President of the ALA in a 30 second television ad to make a quick statement? Such an ad script could simply state:

“Hello Glenn Beck viewers. Color of Change is running an advertising boycott against Glenn over his release of what they term racist disinformation. In today's stormy seas of competing viewpoints, libraries remain your safe harbor for finding truth. I'm Jim Rettig, president of the American Library Association, reminding you that libraries still serve you since time immemorial.”

A bad thing is that the name of the ALA President did not come to mind immediately for me. The latest incarnation of the ALA website makes it quite the safari to actually determine who the President is. Getting actual face time in a commercial break of a national cable show with high ratings would presumably have some benefit. Having President Rettig say that in a library setting at the University of Richmond where he is University Librarian would personalize the point nicely. This would not have to be a complicated affair to produce and should not be any flashier than your average used car lot ad on local television.

As a way to reach the great unwashed, this might actually have more effect than yanking all advertisers. Recently the boycott effort has started to backfire on Color of Change as some of the companies in the boycott have decided to not only pull their ads on Beck's program but to pull their ads off any political program regardless of whether it leans left or right. This may be the time for independent ALA action that could lead to positive results for libraries especially when publishers undercut the status of law libraries through ads by those same publishers.

If anybody in the ALA sees this and wants to run with it, you have my blessing.

Whole Foods Fight

After the supermarket chain's C.E.O. weighed in on health care, Whole Foods' pro-reform shoppers reacted swiftly and vociferously.

More at the NYT online

The Barack Obama Book Club

Want to read like a president? The Daily Beast pulled together every book that the Reader-in-Chief has been spotted with since the campaign. Find out what’s on his night table.

Here are just a few:

What Is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng
by Dave Eggers.
—Politico, May 30, 2009.

by Joseph O’Neill.
—The New York Times Magazine, May 03, 2009.

Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet
by Jeffrey D. Sachs.
—The New York Times, December 16, 2008.

More from The Daily Beast.

Supermax Prison: Obama's Books Objectionable

(AP) Ahmed Omar Abu Ali is serving a 30-year sentence at the federal supermax prison in Florence, Colo., for joining al-Qaida and plotting to assassinate then-President George W. Bush. Last year, Abu Ali requested two books written by Obama: "Dreams from My Father" and "The Audacity of Hope."

His request was denied. Prison officials, citing guidance from the FBI, determined that passages in both books contain information that could damage national security.

The rejections, as well as other restrictions on family visits, prompted a hunger strike by Abu Ali that has since ended, his lawyer Joshua Dratel wrote.

Thanks Infodiva Librarian for the tip.

Ohio Budget Squabble Round-Up

There are many reports about the Ohio budget crisis. SaveOhioLibraries.com has a post up noting that the Ohio Library Council has a status report. There has been a commentary posted about the video slots issue that is reportedly holding up passage of Ohio's state budget.

These are a selection of recent articles in the matter:
Budget makers gambling with future (Commentary, Cincinnati Enquirer)
Q&A about Ohio's debate on slots at racetracks (Associated Press via Forbes.com)
Gambling interests swarm Ohio Statehouse (WTTE Fox 28)
Debate continues over slot machines (Mount Vernon News)
Gambling in Ohio: a primer (Cincinnati.com)
Gambling still key battle in budget work (Editorial by Senator John Carey, Ironton Tribune)
Slots still only 'solution' to Ohio budget crisis (WKYC)
Governor rejects call for November vote on slots (Toledo Blade)
Skip the slots and work on a budget (Editorial, Advertiser-Tribune, Tiffin)
State budget standoff hitting children and school districts in Northeast Ohio: Child-care funds and adoptions halted (The Plain Dealer)

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