May/June 1999

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BCR broadcast takes on filtering issue

On May 25, BCR televised a two-hour satellite teleconference, "What's a Librarian to Do? The Filtering Dilemma." The program was made available in Wyoming at nine sites across the state.

In some ways, the Internet is a reference librarian's dream. Information from a vast variety of sources can be delivered to the desktop quickly and at relatively little expense.

Unfortunately, the medium also has its drawbacks. Misinformation and rumors can be posted as fact. It's as if the world's most comprehensive encyclopedia had no editor.

More troublesome for librarians is the availability of violent, pornographic and age-inappropriate sites. In some communities, activists have called for filtering on library terminals in an effort to block these types of Web pages. With more than half of all libraries nationwide providing public Internet access, librarians need to know all the options.

The BCR teleconference drew on the knowledge and experience of professionals in the field to discuss the pros and cons of filtering, demonstrate filtering programs, present legal ramifications, address elements of the American Library Association's (ALA) Library Bill of Rights, share individual libraries' experiences, discuss the role of acceptable use policies and summarize options available to libraries.

Clifford Lynch, of the Coalition for Networked Information, began the conference by cautioning that filtering is still limited. It is vital to expect no more than what the systems and software can deliver and to become knowledgeable about the technology.

Filters work in one of three ways: creation of and restriction to a safe sites list, blockage of restricted sites and content-based restrictions based on keywords. All three methods are imperfect. Also, most filtering software generates a log of sites visited, raising privacy concerns.

Judith Krug, of the ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom, explained the organization's opposition to mandatory filters. Current technology blocks constitutionally protected speech and interferes with librarians' ability to deliver information.

"Filters are mechanical devices," Krug said. "They don't think."

Most Internet use is for valid purposes, Krug said, and inappropriate use should be addressed in library policies as a behavioral issue. She also encouraged teaching children Internet safety rules.

Panelists stressed the importance of carefully crafted acceptable use policies. While these documents may not prevent lawsuits, they do provide some safeguards and consistency. Policies need to be written in light of the library's mission statement, user needs, budget, computer network environment and patron demographics. Established procedures when policies are violated are crucial.

If the decision is made to filter, research is essential to choose software. Librarians need to know what criteria may block a site and how to override it when necessary.

In Wyoming, libraries wrestle with Internet use and filtering both individually and collectively. The Intellectual Freedom Committee of the Wyoming Library Association (WLA), is working on a statement supporting "the principles of open, free and unrestricted access to information and ideas regardless of the format in which they appear." Another issue of concern is that of local control of policies. Carol Deering chairs the committee.

Deering said work is far from complete, but her committee hopes to have a statement that will fit Wyoming's libraries ready to present to WLA's general membership in October. A statement librarians throughout the state can believe in will allow them to get "on message." Currently, Deering said, the committee is looking at other organizations' statements, gathering input and giving the issue serious thought and debate.

The Wyoming State Library has a videotape of the full BCR-sponsored teleconference available through its development office. To borrow it, contact Judy Yeo at 307/777-5914 or 800/264-1281 choice 1, option 3.

Art Ellis, director of A&I, to retire

Art Ellis, director of Administration and Information (A&I), has announced his retirement at the end of June.

Ellis has been director of A&I since 1997 when he replaced Don Rolston.

"The last four and one half years have been exciting and a tremendous learning experience," Ellis wrote in an email. "Especially I would point to the involvement with the State Library environment. The support from the people of the state for the library and its services is outstanding. Getting to know the people who make it happen has been a treat."

Lesley Boughton, state librarian, said, "It has been a pleasure working with Art Ellis. He understood the issues and importance of libraries in Wyoming."

Also retiring is Larry Stolz, A&I chief information officer. He was honored by the Wyoming State Library Board at its meeting June 17 for his contributions to the WYLD network.

Frank Galeotos has been appointed as the new A&I director.

Filtering furor falls flat in Wyoming

Few library patrons in Wyoming responded to a call to action from popular radio talk show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger.

Dr. Laura took issue with the American Libraries' Association (ALA) stance against filtering in libraries and with its Web link to Columbia University's "Go Ask Alice!" site, which provides answers to health-related questions including those dealing with sexuality.

Two county library directors, Lucie Osborn of Laramie County and Cynthia Twing of Johnson County, said they received questions after Dr. Laura's initial broadcast in May. Neither library uses filters, but both have strong Internet use policies in place. Responsibility for appropriate use rests with individual users, or, in the case of children, with parents.

Osborn said a few people called, most wanting to know details of the library's filtering policy. One asked if Laramie County Library is an institutional member of ALA, which it is not. Calls died out after one or two days.

Osborn said the Dr. Laura flap was a fleeting event, but Internet use raises issues in terms of the quality of information available.

"With the Internet, what becomes really a critical issue is being able to assess the validity of information," Osborn said.

Twing said one mother, a conscientious library user, had gone to the "Go Ask Alice!" site and was alarmed at some of the graphic sexuality discussed there.

The concern was not about Internet access in general, but that ALA had promoted that specific site through a direct link.

Twing reports few problems with Internet use. A few parents have expressed concerns, and about one-fourth of them watch while their children surf. Patrons are always signed up and waiting for 30-minute blocks of time.

"Most of the complaints come because we don't have more than one terminal," she said.

WYLD Things

The WYLD (Wyoming Libraries Database) Network has a new president in Marcia Wright, who stepped up from the vice-president/president-elect position on May 7, replacing Debbie Iverson of Sheridan College. She will serve a two-year term.

Wright, director of the Campbell County Public Library, says technology is a huge part of what libraries do in this state. The WYLD system makes resource sharing easier among libraries and allows patrons a larger range of resources.

"WYLD libraries must use the technological advances to the fullest to enhance the services they deliver," Wright said. "This highly cooperative environment encourages professionalism, integrity and portability of an evolutionary product that is uniquely Wyoming."

Funding will be a big issue, as the Wyoming library community moves forward in an era of tight county budgets. Hardware, software licenses, subscription products and training are all necessary for librarians to provide current information and to help their patrons navigate the world of electronic resources.

"The only places we can go are more -- more, greater connectivity," she said.

The Governing Board has plans to survey library users to learn where libraries should concentrate their resources, Wright said, and will work to market WYLD's current databases better.

Other Governing Board members are Mary Rhoads, member-at-large; Ada Howard, larger public library representative; Nancy Peterson, special library representative; Sandra Munger, smaller public library representative; Stewart Shipman, school library representative; Jerry Krois, Wyoming State Library permanent ex-officio voting representative; Marilyn Heiner, recorder; and Bill Stewart, University of Wyoming liaison.

Research helps librarians bridge communication gap

Librarians are talking, patrons are listening -- but somehow, the two groups aren't quite communicating.

That divide was the subject of Benton Foundation's "The Future's in the Balance" workshop, held in Denver on May 15-16. The conference drew on the foundation's research and on public relations techniques to show librarians how to communicate their messages more effectively.

Five members of the Wyoming library community attended: Jack Mueller, Wyoming State Library (WSL) board chair; Lucie Osborn, Laramie County Library director; Cathy Butler, Sheridan County Library director; Jerry Krois, deputy state librarian; and Susan Vittitow, WSL public information specialist.

Benton, with support from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, published "Buildings, Books and Bytes" in November 1996, revealing what the public and library leaders believed about the future of libraries in the digital age.

In its focus groups, Benton found a disconnect between librarians and library users. Users were more ambivalent about electronic resources than professional librarians are, fearing that computers will push books aside. Library patrons were also unclear on the role of professional librarians.

According to the research, librarians need to communicate two vital messages: libraries balance books and bytes; and librarians are "information navigators."

The first message stems from research showing computers can be "cold" in many users' minds. They want to hear not just about the technology, but about how that technology will enhance the print materials they know and love.

In the second message, librarians have an opportunity to show how a professional, trained in library science, can help users find their way through the proliferation of resources now available. In the focus groups, the term "information navigator" received positive reactions and gave users a better concept of librarians' tasks.

With these messages in hand, workshop participants learned public relations techniques designed to take control of media interviews and public presentations. Librarians were encouraged to look at their communication style and find more effective ways to present their message to funders, supporters, patrons, government, and potential library users. The research and techniques were summarized in a "toolkit" given to participants, which also contained sample opinion articles and ad slicks.

WSL hopes to organize regional workshops using the Benton Foundation materials in the near future.

Information in the Benton toolkit is available for use by all libraries, without restriction. Kit information is available on the Web site at Librarians in Wyoming may contact Krois at 307/777-6496 or 800/264-1281 (choice 1, option 5); Vittitow at 307/777-6338 or 800/264-1281 (choice 1, option 6), or any other "Future's in the Balance" participant for additional information.

Trustee Corner: Service shows professionalism

By Jerry Krois, deputy state librarian

Several years ago a national library leader wrote that we have to stop acting stupid. Sometimes our library policies or practices can make us look bad.

I had a personal experience which might illustrate how we really need to look at our work and customer service. I had a fairly valuable item I wanted to ship via snail mail. The postal clerk suggested that I use the delivery confirmation service, being better than registered mail. My receipt gave me the assurance of tracking my envelope through the USPS web site or 800 phone.

Well, after checking the web for a week I started to worry so called the support desk. They had no record of any such package ever being entered into their system! And I couldn't just file a lost envelope tracer, I would have to go across town to the central post office to complete the form which was only at that office. To keep this story from getting any longer, the envelope showed up at its destination about 20 days after starting this adventure.

The moral of this story? I think it is to be sure that your policies blend the needs of your customers and the work load of staff. Without micro-managing the director's operations, be sure that the practices used by the librarians are sound and reflect good customer service. We demonstrate our professionalism through quality customer services which minimizes the red tape and idiosyncratic rules.

1999 Wyoming Libraries Directory

Send corrections and directory requests to Susan Vittitow at: Wyoming State Library, 2301 Capitol Ave., Cheyenne WY 82002; 307/777-6338 or 800/264-1281, choice 1, option 6. Corrections will be in the next issue of The Outrider.

Personnel-ly speaking

What did you do for National Library Week?

National Library Week (NLW), April 11-17, was a special time to celebrate the contributions of libraries and librarians.

Lovell Branch Library held a "Fine Free Week" and invited local guest readers for children's storytime. Friends of the Library sponsored an appearance by Dorene Ludwig , who spoke on "The Crossing: The Story of the Pioneers."

Campbell County held several events, centered on the theme "Reading Is Out of this World," including an open craft day, a drawing for an alien Beanie, a "Create an Alien or UFO" contest and "Out of this world" storytime and Tale Spinners puppet show.

With more than 87,000 books and other materials in its library system, Carbon County chose the theme "So Many Books, So Little Time" as the theme for its celebration. Encampment-Riverside Friends of the Library held their annual fund-raising book fair. Guest entertainers Mike Hensley and Chris Kennedy, combined prose, poetry and song in "All those Miles Going: America's Romance With the Open Road."

Converse County Library’s celebration was topped off with "John Colter: Mountain Man or Maniac," presented by Gene Bryan on April 21.

Crook County held its annual Open House Luncheon on April 16 and featured a display of Horatio Hornblower books by C. S. Forester. In Moorcroft, Friends of the Library held their annual book sale just prior to NLW. Patrons could register for door prizes awarded in four age groups.

Friends of the Lander Library raised more than $2,100 with their annual book sale. Goshen County Library held its Spring Used Book Sale and Garage Sale, along with a silent auction during NLW.

Hot Springs County Library hosted a presentation by Jessica Schenk on April 13 about her University of Wyoming London study semester. "What Writers Know: Techniques for telling your family story," presented by Martha Cummings and Lisa Vice was featured on April 15.

Hugo and Nebula Award winner Connie Willis spoke about the writer's life at Laramie County Library April 17. The library planned several children's activities, beginning Sunday with a puppet show. Monday brought TVS and Two Fingers, a Colorado-based performance troupe that mixes contemporary poetry with sound art. Kids learned how to make books on Wednesday and learned how to make noise with the Cheyenne Symphony orchestra on April 17. The Burns and Pine Bluffs branches offered one-on-one Internet training and a "Crime Fighting K-9" program.

Lincoln County celebrated with its annual book sale. Mary Lynn Corbett, library director, thanked her staff and volunteers who helped with the event.

Midwest Public School had a rock and roll celebration for the week with 1950s and ‘60s nostalgia and trivia.

Natrona County Library was featured prominently and positively in the Casper Star Tribune with stories on the library's changes, goals and history, as well as a personal reminiscence by correspondent Margaret Laybourn.

Niobrara County worked on a whole new look for the library, with interior and exterior improvements.

Northwest College Hinckley Library invited patrons to celebrate changes made since last year's comprehensive self-evaluation. The library held an open poetry reading on Thursday. Children were the focus on Friday with nursery rhymes and favorite children's works featured.

The Cody Library celebrated library week, with an April 13 presentation by Chuck Neal on "Landscaping with Native Plants to Attract Migratory Songbirds." Bev Robertson gave a book talk on Wednesday on Wind Swans; Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang. Thursday, veterinarian Malcolm Blessing demonstrated tips for caring for all types of small pets, from furry and four-footed to feathered.

Sheridan County Fulmer Public Library capped the week with a visit from author E. Annie Proulx for the Friends of the Library Author Reception on Saturday, April 17. At the reception, the Friends presented a check for $38,550 to Cathy Butler, library director.

Sublette County Library in Pinedale welcomed Wyoming author Ken Thomasma to speak and sign books on April 15. For children, there was a Make a Book craft project and a puppet show. Also visiting was artist John Giarrizzo to answer questions about his work which was displayed during April. Big Piney Branch Library transformed its children's section into an Antarctic panorama complete with icebergs and penguins, encouraging readers to warm up with a good book. The Head Start Art Show was also on display.

Sundance Elementary School constructed a castle as part of its annual book fair in honor of National Library Week. Josie Pearson, elementary school librarian, offered tips for parents who wanted their children to become good readers.

Sweetwater County Library celebrated with certificates for seven babies born during NLW, with one receiving a "Born to Read" t-shirt and a book. "Food for Fines" was in effect all of April, with donations sent to local food banks. Reference fans could play the "Library Question of the Day' for prizes. A Reader's Theatre for children was featured on April 14 in Green River, while patrons of all ages could take a "Trip to the Galapagos" with Pete Loncar on April 15. Sweetwater County staff also offered tours of the WYLD system.

Teton County displayed "Beyond Words" photo contest entries in the auditorium. Friday events featured a presentation for teens by comedian Charlie Williams, a sound effects professional, storyteller, artist, puppeteer, author, and former children's librarian. Williams returned on Saturday for a puppet show featuring his original production of "Sshhh - Adventures at the Library," a wild and zany romp featuring two bunnies who explore the alternative to television - going to the library!

College collection purchases continue slide

An analysis of Wyoming’s community college library collections was recently completed for Wyoming by OCLC/WLN. A similar analysis was undertaken for the public libraries in 1998. A copy of the WYLD bibliographic database was submitted to OCLC/WLN in November so that the "Conspectus Analysis" software could determine the age of the non-fiction books and provide a picture of the subject strengths for the colleges.

The results showed that the purchasing power for the colleges continues to slide downward. During the 1983-87 period the libraries collectively purchased 32,000 new titles. During the 1993-97 period that number dropped to 21,000 new titles.

The results also showed an anomaly in comparison to the public library analysis. While the public libraries saw a definitive boom and bust in purchasing power during the 1980s, community college dollars were flat, showing neither growth nor losses.

OCLC/WLN also provided data to compare Wyoming's eight community colleges to Washington's 29 colleges. This information shows that the subject collections in this state are similar to a larger state with the largest focus on literature, history and sociology.

In addition to the statewide profile, a database file was created for each library so staff can review detailed information about the age and strengths of their collections.

Copies of the tables and charts are available from the State Library upon request. Contact Jerry Krois, at 307/777-6496 or 800/264-1281, Option 5 (in-state); or by email at

Linch Branch needs funds to stay on power grid

Johnson County Library has requested $2,500 in its 1999-2000 budget in an effort to keep the Linch Branch Library open.

The money is needed to provide a new connection to the Pacific Power electric grid. Johnson County School District had provided operational maintenance funds for the library in previous years in exchange for use of the facility by students. With the closure of the school in Linch, the district chose to sever its connection with the library. When the school vacates its location on Sept. 1, it also vacates the easement for electrical power on which the library has relied.

According to Cynthia Twing, Johnson County Library director, the situation is still up in the air. She is exploring other possibilities which may lower the cost. Linch area residents are circulating petitions and sending letters to the county commissioners to reinforce the importance of that library to the community and make their concerns known.

Saving Shiloh wins Indian Paintbrush

Saving Shiloh by Phyllis Naylor was the winner of the The Indian Paintbrush Book Award for 1999. First runner up was Falling Up by Shel Silverstein, and second runner up was The Backward Birddog by Bill Wallace Nominations for 2000: Packets will be mailed to schools and libraries in late August.

WLA announces Soaring Eagle winners for 1999

Wyoming Libraries Association (WLA) Soaring Eagle Committee has announced winners for 1999.

Winning title was Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul by Jack Canfield, first runner up was Angels Watching Over Me by Lurlene McDaniel and second runner up was Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse The complete 1999-2000 Soaring Eagle List:

  1. Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul II by Jack Canfield
  2. Brian's Return by Gary Paulsen
  3. Loch by Paul Zindel
  4. Shade's Children by Garth Nix
  5. Belle Prater's Boy by Ruth White
  6. Lifted Up by Angels by Lurlene McDaniel
  7. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling
  8. Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith
  9. Countdown by Ben Mikaelsen
  10. Holes by Louis Sachar
  11. Absolutely Normal Chaos by Sharon Creech
  12. Long Patrol: A Tale from Redwall by Brian Jacques
  13. A Child Called "it": An Abused Child's Journey from Victim to Victor by David Pelzer
  14. Wanted! by Caroline Cooney
  15. Gallows Hill by Lois Duncan
Students in grades 7-12 voted on the winning titles and nominated the books to the new list.

Complete Soaring Eagle packets were mailed to public and school libraries in May.

Around the state

Three elected to MPLA offices

Three Wyoming librarians were elected to offices in the Mountain Plains Library Association (MPLA) recently.

Brian Greene, network coordinator for the Wyoming State Library, was elected vice-chair/chair-elect of the technical services section. Diana Oedekoven, librarian for the Gillette campus of Northern Wyoming Community College District, was elected vice-chair/chair-elect of the preservation section. Kevin Anderson, who works with special collections for Casper College Library, was elected secretary of the preservation section.

These newly-elected officers took their positions at the end of the MPLA conference in Big Sky, Mont.

Teton County staff in a WYLD race to the finish

Portraying the characters from Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, Teton County Library staff skied, biked and white water rafted their way to first place in the "Fun Class" of the annual Pole, Pedal, Paddle race in early April. They wore "Where the WYLD things are...Teton County Library and Friends" signs to promote the Wyoming Libraries Database.

Carolyn Groves Winkler, youth services librarian, was Max -- taming the Wild Things by telling them to "Be Still!" Wild Things were Carrie Naughton, circulation library assistant; Shawn Steele, reference library assistant; Kate Mengel, youth services library assistant; and Julie Klomparens, circulation supervisor.

Skiing the 4-mile downhill course was Eve Lynes, systems supervisor. Steele and Naughton got wild on the cross country course. Klomparens and Winkler rode a Schwinn tandem "beach cruiser" bike on the 20 mile bike, and Mengel guided the team down the Snake River.

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